The Supreme Court on Thursday rebuffed the Republican Party and allowed a consent decree to go forward so that Rhode Island voters during the coronavirus pandemic could cast mail-in ballots without in-person witness verification.
It was the first time the justices had agreed to a pandemic-related voter relief effort. But they explained in a short, unsigned order that state officials had agreed to relax the rules, and the change already had been implemented during the June primary.
Unlike “similar cases where a state defends its own law, here the state election officials support the challenged decree, and no state official has expressed opposition,” the order said. “Under these circumstances, the applicants lack a cognizable interest in the state’s ability to enforce its duly enacted laws.”
The vote was not announced, but Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch noted that they would have granted the stay requested by the Republican National Committee and the state Republican Party.