The Supreme Court on Monday left intact an extended mail-in ballot due date in Pennsylvania, handing a major defeat to Republicans.
The court’s four more-conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — would have halted a lower court ruling from taking effect, strongly suggesting that Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the three liberal justices to form a 4-4 tie that left in place the lower court’s decision.
Pennsylvania Republicans and top officials from the state’s GOP-held legislature had asked the justices to review a state supreme court court ruling that requires election officials to accept ballots postmarked by Election Day, as long as they arrive within three days.
The ruling was seen as a win for Democrats in the key battleground state — which President Trump won in 2016 by more than 44,000 votes — since Democratic voters are considered more likely than Trump supporters to vote by mail in November.
Marc Elias, a top Democratic election lawyer who has been involved in dozens of election-related lawsuits in the 2020 race, hailed the development.
“GREAT NEWS for voting rights and voters in Pennsylvania!” he wrote on Twitter.
Hundreds of election-related fights have been waged this cycle, the most intensely litigated election in U.S. history, over how ballots are cast amid the pandemic and how votes will be counted.
The Republican National Committee has pledged $20 million this cycle to oppose Democratic-backed efforts to ease voting restrictions while Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said his campaign has assembled 600 attorneys for election-related lawsuits.