President Joe Biden said on Thursday, July 1, that he was dissatisfied with a 6-3 vote by the Supreme Court that ruled Arizona’s new voting law does not breach the Voting Rights Act.
“I am deeply disappointed in today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court that undercuts the Voting Rights Act, and upholds what Justice [Elena] Kagan called ‘a significant race-based disparity in voting opportunities,’” Biden said in a statement via the White House portal.
Alleging that “the Court has now done severe damage to two of the most important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” the president urged, “we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them.”
Biden’s reactions come after the Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s voting law that requires votes cast in a wrong precinct to be tossed out and limits ballot harvesting, deciding that its push for a more secure election does not breach the Voting Rights Act.
The high court’s ruling overturned an earlier decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that held that Arizona’s law disproportionately affected Black, Hispanic and Native American voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
The two provisions examined by the Supreme Court pertain to voting locations and who is eligible to drop off votes, according to the Political Insider.
The first provision states that any in-person ballots cast on election day that is cast in a precinct other than the voter’s designated precinct will be thrown out. The second restricts a procedure called “ballot collection,” and requires that only family caregivers, mail carriers, and election officials deliver someone else’s completed ballot to a polling place.
Six justices agreed that neither of the provisions violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, including John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett Fox News reported.
Three justices opposed the ruling, including Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
Delivering the court’s opinion, Justice Alito said that Arizona’s interest in the integrity of elections justified the measures.
“Neither Arizona’s out-of-precinct rule nor its ballot-collection law violates §2 of the VRA. Arizona’s out-of-precinct rule enforces the requirement that voters who choose to vote in person on election day must do so in their assigned precincts. Having to identify one’s own polling place and then travel there to vote does not exceed the ‘usual burdens of voting’,” Alito wrote.
In her dissent, Kagan wrote, “What is tragic here is that the Court has (yet again) rewritten—in order to weaken—a statute that stands as a monument to America’s greatness, and protects against its basest impulses. What is tragic is that the Court has damaged a statute designed to bring about ‘the end of discrimination in voting.’ I respectfully dissent.”
In his statement, Biden claimed that Arizona’s voting measures are undemocratic.
“While this broad assault against voting rights is sadly not unprecedented, it is taking on new forms. It is no longer just about a fight over who gets to vote and making it easier for eligible voters to vote. It is about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all.”
“Our democracy depends on an election system built on integrity and independence,” Biden said. “The attack we are seeing today makes clearer than ever that additional laws are needed to safeguard that beating heart of our democracy. We must also shore up our election security to address the threats of election subversion from abroad and at home.”
However, in his writing for the majority, Justice Alito said states such as Arizona have a legitimate interest in trying to eliminate chances for voter fraud.
“Fraud can affect the outcome of a close election, and fraudulent votes dilute the right of citizens to cast ballots that carry appropriate weight,” the justice said. “Fraud can also undermine public confidence in the fairness of elections and the perceived legitimacy of the announced outcome.”
The court’s ruling broadly reveals that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has limited power to combat voting restrictions, according to Western Journal.
Biden insisted that his administration will continue “to raise the urgency of the moment and demand that our democracy truly reflects the will of the people and that it delivers for the Nation.”