U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear All Four Election Law Cases that had Been on Conference Last Week

On May 15, the U.S. Supreme Court revealed that at its May 11 conference, it had refused to hear all four election law cases that were before it.

It refused to hear Libertarian Party of Kentucky v Grimes, 16-1034, thus continuing its 26-year record of refusing all cert petitions from minor parties and independent candidates that concern election law (unless the major parties were also in the same case). The issue was the state’s restrictive definition of “political party”, one which requires certain support in a presidential race.

It refused to hear North Carolina v North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, 16-833, over the election laws that affect voting and were passed in 2013, when Republicans won complete control of state government. The 2013 laws curtailed the ability of voters to vote early, eliminated the ability to register to vote the day before the election, curtailed the ability to cast a provisional ballot out of the precinct of residence, and imposed a government photo-ID requirement for voters at the polls. The U.S. District Court had upheld all those laws, but the Fourth Circuit had invalidated all of them. The basis for the Fourth Circuit decision is that all these laws had a racially discriminatory intent.

It refused to hear the Montana Republican and Hawaii Democratic cases against open primaries. They were Democratic Party of Hawaii v Nago, 16-652, and Ravalli County Republican Committee v Stapleton, 16-806.

Next week the U.S. Supreme Court may reveal whether it will hear Republican Party of Louisiana v Federal Election Commission, 16-865, over federal campaign finance laws that inhibit contributions to state and local parties. Soon it will also act on Gill v Whitford, 16-1161, over Wisconsin’s partisan legislative gerrymander.

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