Supreme Court rejects bid by Texas Democrats to expand vote-by-mail during coronavirus pandemic

A man bikes past the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, June 25, 2020.

Al Drago | Reuters

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected an effort by Texas Democrats to allow all voters in the state to vote by mail during its July runoff elections and the November presidential contest as a precaution against the spreading coronavirus pandemic.  

The decision was announced in an order with no noted dissents.

The Texas Democratic Party had asked the court to expand the state’s vote-by-mail procedures to allow voters “to exercise that fundamental right in the midst of a global pandemic which grows worse by the day in Texas, without risk to their health and—without hyperbole—to their lives.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, asked the Supreme Court to reject the Democrats’ request. 

“There is no constitutional right to vote by mail,” Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins told the justices in a brief.

Texas allows no-excuse mail-in voting only for those 65 and older. 

A federal district court sided with the Democrats in late May and held that all Texas voters were eligible to apply to vote by mail, but that decision was quickly put on hold by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals pending further consideration.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in a statement on Friday that she did not disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision.

“But I hope that the Court of Appeals will consider the merits of the legal issues in this case well in advance of the November election,” Sotomayor wrote. 

Sotomayor said the Democrats’ case “raises weighty but seemingly novel questions regarding the 26th Amendment.”

The 26th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits states from denying the right to vote to any U.S. citizen 18 and older. 

Texas rolled back its reopening on Friday as Covid-19 cases continue to surge in the state. 

This is breaking news. Check back for updates. 

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