The U.S. Supreme Court will review Ohio’s contested purge of its voter rolls next term, adding a potentially major case on voting rights to its docket for the first time since Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the high court. The justices agreed to hear the case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, in their weekly release of orders on Tuesday. At issue is the removal of tens of thousands of Ohio voters from the state’s voter list ahead of last November’s election. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the process before Election Day last year before it had fully taken effect, while a federal district court allowed 7,515 voters who had already been removed by that point to cast a ballot.
A group of civil-rights organizations, including the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the think tank Demos, and the ACLU of Ohio, filed a lawsuit against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted challenging the supplemental process’s legality in early 2016. They pointed to two federal laws, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002, that forbid states from removing registered voters from the rolls for simply not voting. Husted countered that the federal provision doesn’t apply because the supplemental process doesn’t force voters from the rolls unless they’ve also failed to respond to the mailed confirmation notice. By his apparent estimation, that intervening step means the state hasn’t broken either law.