Courts' Republican Appointees Are Dismantling Voting Rights: Study

Judges and justices appointed by Trump have ruled against voting access 85% of the time this year, the study found.

A study commissioned by a group that favors expanding the U.S. Supreme Court found that Republican-appointed judges and justices in 2020 have repeatedly ruled in favor of making it harder for Americans to vote.

The “Anti-Democracy Scorecard” study from the group Take Back the Court found that on election-related cases, Republican appointees interpreted the law in a way that hindered voting access 80% of the time, as compared to 37% of the time with Democratic appointees.

Among judges and justices appointed by President Donald Trump, that figure jumped to 85%.

Take Back the Court included all cases that federal judges and Supreme Court justices voted on this year that concerned litigants “seeking freedom to vote, ballot access, or lowered signature requirements,” the group said. The group used nine different litigation-tracking databases to identify the cases. Overall, it counted 309 votes by judges in 175 decisions.

The study included a decision in Ohio last week, in which a Trump-appointed federal judge and one appointed by former President George W. Bush determined that it was reasonable to limit ballot drop boxes to one site per Ohio county.

It also included a Supreme Court decision in April, in which the court’s five conservative justices voted against expanding Wisconsin’s window for receiving mail-in ballots in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If confirmed, Judge Amy Coney Barrett will become President Donald Trump's third Supreme Court appointee in four years.
If confirmed, Judge Amy Coney Barrett will become President Donald Trump's third Supreme Court appointee in four years.
Leah Millis / Reuters

The study comes on the heels of confirmation hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, in which she refused to say whether voting discrimination exists in the U.S. and sparred with Democratic senators who questioned her commitment to upholding voting access.

Since the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month, which gave Trump the chance to rush through a new nominee before the Nov. 3 election, there’s been talk among progressive Democrats of expanding the size of the Supreme Court, a practice that’s been referred to as “court packing.”

Take Back the Court’s position is that “the Supreme Court has broken democracy by allowing hyper-partisan gerrymandering, dismantling the Voting Rights Act, and enabling unlimited dark money to flood our politics. Because the Roberts majority will not allow Congress to enact new laws to restore democracy, the Court must be expanded if the system is to be un-rigged.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has dodged questions about whether he supports that idea but said at his town-hall-style event Thursday that he would offer a clear position on expanding the court before Election Day.

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