Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Election officials in Pennsylvania, for example, are required to accept mail-in and absentee ballots up to three days after the Nov. 3 election, following a state Supreme Court ruling. The ruling is currently being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, which argues that the extension of the deadline violates federal law that sets Election Day as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and that the decision to extend the deadline belongs to lawmakers, not the courts.
In October, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated that it was interested in granting a request to review the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision.
“The provisions of the Federal Constitution conferring on state legislatures, not state courts, the authority to make rules governing federal elections would be meaningless if a state court could override the rules adopted by the legislature simply by claiming that a state constitutional provision gave the courts the authority to make whatever rules it thought appropriate for the conduct of a fair election,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his statement (pdf). He was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.
Although the nation’s top court rejected a request to expeditiously consider a request to review the case, Alito said that the issues presented in the case is of “national importance, and there is a strong likelihood that the State Supreme Court decision violates the Federal Constitution.”
Under the U.S. Constitution, the “times, places, and manner of holding elections” may be prescribed by the state “legislature” and “Congress.”