Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar

141 S. Ct. 1 (2020)

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Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar

United States Supreme Court
141 S. Ct. 1 (2020)

Facts

In 2019, the Pennsylvania legislature enacted a law called Act 77. Act 77 permitted all voters to cast their votes by mail and required that all mailed ballots be received by election day. The legislature specified that if the election-day deadline provision was declared invalid, the rest of Act 77 would be void. The legislature subsequently clarified that the COVID-19 pandemic did not call for any change in the election-day deadline. As election day approached, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reviewed Act 77 and issued a decree that mailed ballots need not be received by election day. The court imposed the rule that ballots were to be treated as timely if they were postmarked on or before election day and were received within three days thereafter. The court also ordered that a ballot with no postmark or an illegible postmark must be regarded as timely if it was received by the same date. The court acknowledged that the election-day deadline provision of Act 77 was unambiguous and constitutional but claimed that the court had the broad power to do what it thought necessary to respond to a natural disaster to protect voters’ rights under the Free and Equal Elections Clause of the state constitution. The Republican Party of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Senate leaders (Pennsylvania Republicans) (plaintiffs) filed suit against the Secretary of the Commonwealth (defendant) and asked the Supreme Court to stay the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision. The Pennsylvania Republicans argued that the state court decision violated the state constitution and the federal statute setting a uniform date for federal elections. The stay was denied. The Pennsylvania Republicans petitioned for a writ of certiorari and requested that the court expedite review and decide the constitutional question before the election.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Alito, J.)

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