The conservative SCOTUS majority stuck together and blocked Wisconsin from extending absentee voting beyond voting day Tuesday.
Justice Kavanaugh, a appointee of President Trump wrote for the majority.
TheHill reports the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday night ruled that Wisconsin cannot accept absentee ballots postmarked after its voting day Tuesday.
In a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, the conservative justices sided with Republican state lawmakers by halting a lower court order to extend absentee voting to April 13, a measure that would have expanded options for avoiding in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Extending the date by which ballots may be cast by voters — not just received by the municipal clerks but cast by voters — for an additional six days after the scheduled election day fundamentally alters the nature of the election,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the majority, saying the lower district court erred by providing such relief.
The decision came just hours after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) executive order to postpone Tuesday’s vote, sowing confusion and chaos around a critical election featuring a Democratic presidential primary and a pivotal state Supreme Court seat.
Evers had sought to push back the in-person voting date until June 9 and said that all mail and absentee ballots sent up to that date would be counted.
But the pair of rulings from the top federal court and highest Wisconsin state court on Monday largely returned things to the status quo, with in-person voting and a postmark deadline set for the following day, despite a flurry of last-minute legal and political wrangling and a virus that has infected some 2,500 and killed nearly 80 in the state.
Ballots that are postmarked by Tuesday may be accepted up to April 13, wrote Kavanaugh, who was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. The majority said it intervened with reluctance.
“The court would prefer not to do so, but when a lower court intervenes and alters the election rules so close to the election date, our precedents indicate that this court, as appropriate, should correct that error,” Kavanaugh wrote.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a dissent that was joined by fellow liberal justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.