US Supreme Court temporarily blocks controversial Georgia election law

US Supreme Court temporarily blocks controversial Georgia election law
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in May 2020 (Capt. Bryant Wine).

On Friday, August 19, the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision in a pending case involving Georgia election law, delaying an election in the Peach State. The Court, according to New York Times reporter Adam Liptak, revives “a federal judge’s ruling that the state had adopted voting rules that disadvantaged Black voters in violation of a federal civil rights law.”

“In an unsigned order without noted dissents,” Liptak reports, “the justices wrote that an appeals court’s reason for staying the judge’s ruling — that it had come too close to the election in November — was flawed because state officials had told the judge that there was enough time to make the required adjustments. The Supreme Court vacated the stay and returned the case to the appeals court for reconsideration.”

The High Court’s order, Liptak notes, “was an exception to what legal experts say is a growing trend: a near-categorical ban on late changes to state election procedures even when those changes have been ruled necessary to address illegal infringements of the right to vote.”

READ MORE: Brian Kemp accuses Stacey Abrams of supporting boycotts that she discouraged

“The case concerned elections for the Georgia Public Service Commission, which sets utility rates and has five members,” Liptak reports. “A 1998 law divided the state into five districts, with one commissioner representing each. But the commissioners continued to be elected in statewide elections. About a third of Georgians are Black, but Black voters are in a majority in District 3, which is made up of counties in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Four Black voters from that district sued to challenge statewide elections for commissioners, saying the practice violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting their power to elect candidates of their choice.”

In Atlanta, Liptak notes, federal District Court Judge Steven D. Grimberg had ruled “that elections for the two commission seats on the ballot in November could not proceed until state lawmakers eliminated statewide elections for them.”

Voting has been a hot-button issue in Georgia, where former President Donald Trump falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him — a claim that Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both conservative Republicans, have flatly denied, stressing that there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Biden didn’t win the state fairly. Kemp and Raffensperger, however, have drawn vehement criticism from many liberals and progressives for supporting Georgia’s controversial voting law, which numerous Democratic voting rights activists consider a form of voter suppression.

Georgia will have some closely watched elections in November, including the gubernatorial race — which finds Kemp competing with Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams — and a U.S. Senate race that finds Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock up against GOP nominee and well-known football star Herschel Walker.

READ MORE: New email reveals Trump campaign's involvement in fake electors plot in Georgia: report

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