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Election Dissection

A centrist bloc at the Supreme Court?

A lot of coverage of the Supreme Court's recent election-related decisions has focused on the new conservative majority, and how that may be a dark development for voting rights. Election Dissection contributor Edward B. Foley has an alternative take in The Washington Post.

Three recent decisions show that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh may become centrist swing votes on some election issues, Foley says. Roberts and Kavanaugh are charting a middle ground between the court's three liberals and three staunchest conservatives, he says.


This was demonstrated in three recent decisions on absentee ballots, Foley says. In Wisconsin, Roberts and Kavanaugh sided with the conservatives, striking down a federal judge's decision to back Democrats who wanted more time to count late-arriving votes. But in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the two sided with liberals in upholding court-ordered extensions of vote counting. The difference is that in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the extensions were ordered by state courts. In Wisconsin, it was a federal court.

Roberts and Kavanaugh "held the balance of power between two trios of justices on their left and right," Foley says. "The pair steered the court to a sensible centrist position on the enforcement of voting rules heading into Election Day."

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