by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block the extension of North Carolina’s absentee ballot deadline, the top officer in the state Senate is responding.
The high court officially closed the door today on N.C. legislators’ legal appeals, with a 5-3 decision in the case called Berger v. N.C. Board of Elections.
The lead plaintiff in the case, Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, issued the following statement:
“We’re disappointed that, in this instance, the Court majority appears to agree that the legislature’s authority to determine the time, place, and manner of elections is subject to being set aside by a partisan panel of unelected bureaucrats.
“Some may say that the policy choice now made by courts and unelected bureaucrats this time is relatively insignificant. Perhaps they’re right. But I’m very concerned about the small, but not zero, chance of protracted, no-holds-barred litigation over dubiously marked, late-arriving ballots that would change the outcome of an election. This decision advances that possible scenario.
“Rules for the conduct of elections exist to provide for clear protocols, understood by all before voting begins, and to change those rules mid-election invites suspicion and undermines confidence in election outcomes.”
The Supreme Court’s latest decision follows similar 5-3 decisions to reject requests for action in federal lawsuits dubbed Moore v. Circosta and Wise v. Circosta. New Justice Amy Coney Barrett didn’t take part in the decisions.
Berger, N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, and state and national Republican groups had asked the court to reinstate a Nov. 6 deadline established in state law for receipt of mailed-in absentee ballots. Under a controversial lawsuit settlement in state court, that deadline is now extended to Nov. 12.