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Texas Democrats Sue Gov. Abbott One Day After Supreme Court Decision on Wisconsin Election

The Texas Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and others in an attempt to prevent what happened in Wisconsin on Tuesday from happening again. Democrats, seeking vote-by-mail election due to the COVID-19 pandemic, featured the Monday decision by the Supreme Court prominently in their complaint.

In case you missed it, SCOTUS declined to extend the deadline for absentee voting in the Wisconsin’s Tuesday primary election and general judicial election. The court’s conservatives won out 5-4. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on behalf of the court’s liberals, dissented and accused the Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch of jeopardizing the safety of many thousands of Wisconsinites by denying them the ability to safely vote-by-mail during the pandemic.

What resulted on Tuesday in Wisconsin:

The Texas Democratic Party, its chair Gilberto Hinojosa and others filed suit against Gov. Abbott, Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughes, and officials from both Travis County and Bexar County—in an attempt to secure voting by mail in May.

“Historically, most voters in Texas elections vote ‘in person’ where they have contact with electronic equipment, election personnel, other voters and observers. These very activities are now heavily discouraged by various government orders and are being discouraged in an enormous public education campaign,” said the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division. “Even were this pandemic to ease, certain populations will feel the need and/or be required to continue social distancing. The upcoming party primary runoff elections and the November General Election are certain to be influenced by these condition.”

The plaintiffs noted that Monday’s Supreme Court decision and the need to file a complaint as early as possible were very much at top of mind.

“Importantly, the U.S. Supreme Court decision from yesterday served notice that cases such as this one that seek to remedy these conditions must proceed early and before an unknown deadline after which the federal courts will not decide the issues. The Supreme Court held, ‘[t]his Court has repeatedly emphasized that lower federal courts should ordinarily not alter the election rules on the eve of an election,'” the lawsuit continued. “In holding that it was too late for the Supreme Court to remedy constitutional harms in Wisconsin, the Supreme Court held, ‘The Court’s decision on the narrow question before the Court should not be viewed as expressing an opinion on the broader question of whether to hold the election, or whether other reforms or modifications in election procedures in light of COVID–19 are appropriate. That point cannot be stressed enough.’ These Plaintiffs file this suit at the earliest possible moment after receiving this Supreme Court guidance so as to ensure timely merits review.”

“It is critically important that election officials and voters begin to prepare for an election where fewer ballots are cast in-person,” Democrats argued.

You can read the rest of the lawsuit below.

Texas Democrats vote-by-mail lawsuit by Law&Crime on Scribd

Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.

[Image via Loren Elliott/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.