President Joe Biden condemned the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Arizona’s voting law Thursday and declared that “severe damage” has been done to the Voting Rights Act.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that states can pass laws aimed at preventing voter fraud. Arizona’s voting law, condemned by Democrats and voting rights groups, places restrictions on out-of-precinct voting and ballot harvesting.
“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 after the decision.
“In a span of just eight years, the Court has now done severe damage to two of the most important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – a law that took years of struggle and strife to secure,” the president added.
Today’s decision by the Supreme Court undercuts voting rights in this country — and makes it all the more crucial to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore and expand voting protections.
Our democracy depends on it.
— President Biden (@POTUS) July 1, 2021
Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Kagan in dissenting. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito voted to uphold the law.
Biden claimed the decision weakens voting rights laws and called out Senate Republicans for blocking “a debate … of the For the People Act.” The president said this act “would have protected the right to vote from action by Republican legislators in states across the country.” (RELATED: Arizona Adopts Election Reform Bill That Stops Some Voters From Automatically Receiving Absentee Ballots)
Arizona’s voting law, signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in May, requires any in-person ballots cast on Election Day at incorrect precincts to be discarded, CNN reported. The law also limits ballot harvesting to family caregivers, election officials and mail carriers.
“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,” according to Alito. “Having to identify one’s own polling place and then travel there to vote does not exceed the ‘usual burdens of voting.'”
Kagan condemned the vote and said its upholds “two election laws from Arizona that discriminate against minority voters.” Democrats like Biden, along with liberal pundits like MSNBC’s Joy Reid, decried the move as well.
“Arizona law generally makes it very easy to vote,” Alito wrote regarding the majority decision. “One strong and entirely legitimate state interest is the prevention of 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. Fraud can also undermine public confidence in the fairness of elections and the perceived legitimacy of the announced outcome.”
Biden called the decision an “attack” and pushed for “additional laws” to “safeguard that beating heart of our democracy.” He also called for pushing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, noting that the Supreme Court’s decision “puts the burden back on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act to its intended strength.”
“Democracy is on the line,” Biden added. “We can do this together.”