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April 11, 2021

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Supreme Court likely to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona

If so, it could make it harder to sue under Voting Rights Act

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona in a key case that could make it harder to challenge a raft of other voting measures Republicans have proposed following last year’s elections.

All six conservative justices, appointed by Republican presidents, suggested they would throw out an appellate ruling that struck down the restrictions as racially discriminatory under the landmark Voting Rights Act. The three liberal members of the court, appointed by Democrats, were more sympathetic to the challengers.

Less clear is what standard the court might set for how to prove discrimination under the law, first enacted in 1965.

The outcome could make it harder, if not impossible, to use the Voting Rights Act to sue over legislation that creates obstacles to voting in the name of election security. Such measures are currently making their way through dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures.

Civil rights groups and Democrats argue that the proposed restrictions would disproportionately affect minority voters, important Democratic constituencies.

Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, have proposed national legislation that would remove such security-driven obstacles to voting.

Many of those proposals are being driven by former President Donald Trump’s repeated false claims of a stolen election, although state elections officials and judges in state and federal courts found no evidence of significant problems.

The Arizona provisions under review were in place for last year’s voting. They are a 2016 law that limits who can return early ballots for another person and a separate policy of discarding ballots cast in the wrong precinct.

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