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Thomas Gallatin / July 2, 2021

SCOTUS Ends Term on Strong Note

The justices issued rulings upholding election integrity and free speech rights.

In what can best be described as a mixed term for the current U.S. Supreme Court, in its final decisions before closing out, the justices issued two strong rulings in support of federalism and privacy rights.

In arguably the hottest issue of the moment, voting rights and election fraud, the Court issued a 6-3 decision in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee upholding the state of Arizona’s recently passed election integrity legislation. The Court’s majority rejected the claims that Arizona’s law ran afoul of the Constitution and that it was designed to suppress the ability of minorities to vote.

Justice Samuel Alito observed, “Neither Arizona’s out-of-precinct rule nor its ballot-collection law violates §2 of the [Voting Rights Act],” and in fact “generally makes it quite easy for residents to vote.” Alito also wrote: “Having to identify one’s own polling place and then travel there to vote does not exceed the ‘usual burdens of voting.’ On the contrary, these tasks are quintessential examples of the usual burdens of voting.”

The Court agreed with the lower court’s contention that the DNC had failed to provide any substantive evidence such as records or statistical data showing how many people actually relied on ballot harvesting to vote, specifically within minority communities. In other words, the DNC had nothing to support its loudly voiced claim that eliminating ballot harvesting effectively suppressed minority voting. As Alito noted, “None of the individual voters called by the plaintiffs had even claimed that the ballot collection restriction ‘would make it significantly more difficult to vote.’”

Predictably, Democrats and the Leftmedia reacted to the decision with the usual hyperbolic hysterics of “democracy under threat,” falsely spinning the Arizona law as designed to limit voting rights. Joe Biden lamented, “After all we have been through to deliver the promise of this nation to all Americans, we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them.” That farcical framing is why his Department of Social Justice is suing Georgia, too.

Ironically, “enforcing voting rights laws” is exactly what the Arizona law does. Ditto for Georgia. This ruling serves to reinforce federalism — states’ authority to run their own elections and to set the rules for ensuring the integrity of the vote.

The second big ruling was in the case of Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta. With the same 6-3 split, the Court struck down California’s donor disclosure law for violating the First Amendment. The case was over California’s law mandating that nonprofit advocacy groups must provide a list of donors to state authorities. National Review explains:

Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta arose from the California attorney general’s office, mainly under Kamala Harris and Xavier Becerra, trampling the First Amendment rights of nonprofit advocacy groups to the privacy of their donors. It was not a coincidence that California launched that initiative at the height of the Tea Party movement. Its draconian scope applied not only to California charities but to any nonprofit that solicited donations in the state — even Chinese dissident groups. In an age of cancel culture and ever-increasing digital surveillance, the Court found, the risks of harassment and reprisals “are heightened in the 21st century and seem to grow with each passing year, as anyone with access to a computer can compile a wealth of information about anyone else, including such sensitive details as a person’s home address or the school attended by his children.”

Even the Biden administration shied away from defending this one. Harris has yet to respond to the decision and likely will remain mum. After all, the trial revealed that Harris’s AG office “systematically failed to maintain the confidentiality” of donors and there was “ample evidence” showing that donors were exposed and suffered harassment, and that the law “demonstrably played no role in advancing the attorney general’s law enforcement goals for the past ten years.” In other words, it appears that the only reason Harris wanted the law was to gain access to donor information to be used for intimidation purposes when leaked.

The Supreme Court’s next term promises to be just as compelling as this last, with a challenge to Roe v. Wade looming on the horizon, all while Democrats increasingly move toward an effort to pack the Court.

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