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Federal Court of Appeals emerges as important to Trump in voting cases

This month, a federal judge from Texas Governor Greg Abbott has abandoned a decree limiting each county in the state to one drop box to deal with the surge in absentee ballots this season and needs to be restricted. I rejected Mr. Abbott’s claim that it was. Combat fraud.

A few days later, an appeals committee of three judges appointed by President Trump frozen lower court orders and maintained Mr. Abbott’s new policy. This means that both Harris County, which has more than 2 million voters, and Wheeler County, which has well less than 4,000, hand out absentee ballots and allow voters who want to avoid reliance on postal services with only one drop box. To do.

The Texas case has at least eight major nationwide cases in which judges in the federal district court upheld citizenship groups and Democrats in voting cases only to stay in the federal appeals court where Mr. Trump did more. It is one of the election disputes. It has more than 40 years of population than any president.

The ruling emphasizes how Mr. Trump’s willingness to fill an empty judge has benefited his reelection campaign, even before a major controversy over the outcome was brought to the Supreme Court. When he explained last month that he was in a hurry to appoint Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor, he revealed the political benefits he gained from his ability to appoint judges. He shows that he may bring in in case of loss.

By appointing dozens of credible Conservatives on the appeal bench, Mr. Trump has increased the likelihood of appealing issues such as voting rights before a judge with a sympathetic legal philosophy to the Republican Party. .. Due to this trend, Democrats and civil rights attorneys face another major obstacle to efforts to allow as many people as possible to vote during the pandemic, and face a Republican voting restriction campaign. I am more and more concerned about what I am doing.

Wendy R. Weiser, director of the democracy program, said: “There have been so many federal suffrage wins across the country, and in the past 1-2 weeks, many, if not most, have stayed in the Court of Appeals. At the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, some this year. He has been involved in voting proceedings. “In these jurisdictions, there is often a brake on the expansion of voting rights at the appeal level in a way that cannot be corrected before the election.”

In potentially critical states like Wisconsin and Ohio, the results appear to have helped the president’s efforts to limit voting, but in some cases just three weeks before the election date, the rules are broad. Is causing a lot of confusion.

There have been a dizzying amount of election-related proceedings this year, with more than 350 proceedings in state and federal courts. In general, disputes take how far the state can go to make it easier to apply for, fill out, and send ballots, and how long it takes the electorate to count what is certain to be a record number. Focus on what you can do. Polls point out that Democrats are more likely to vote by mail this year than Republicans.

Democrats and civil rights groups say that certain voting provisions that may have made sense before the pandemic are overly annoying in light of social distance guidelines and the terribly overwhelming delays of the entire post office. Insisted. This includes excuses for absentee ballots and requests for witness signatures, strict election day deadlines for formal receipt of postal votes, and limited use of Dropbox.

The Republican Party, led by Mr. Trump, argued that relaxing these rules and expanding the use of Dropbox would expose the voting system to fraud and confusion, threatening the legitimacy of elections.

Keep up with the 2020 elections

A series of rulings made in late summer and early autumn rejected the argument, noting the lack of evidence that fraud poses a threat close to what the president and his Republican allies say.

“The state did not provide a real example of fraudulent elections,” said Judge Robert Pittman, president of President Barack Obama, because he would limit the dropboxes in Texas where the Democratic Party had made significant intrusions. Decided to block Mr. Obama at the district court level. recent years.

“According to records, fraudulent elections rarely occur today,” said Abama K. Karon, a judge in another district court nominated by Obama, of Senator Doug Jones, whose Republican Party is incumbent in the Democratic Party. Decided to relax the voting requirements of Alabama, which wants to leave.

“No evidence was presented at the hearing to support a conclusive reference to the fraud,” said Judge Dan Aaron Polster, Clinton District Court appointed, in Ohio, who believes the Democratic Party is possible. He wrote that he refused an attempt to limit his dropbox. Swing to their column in the presidential election.

The Court of Appeals has extended these decisions in Texas, Alabama, and Ohio, as well as in Wisconsin, extending the deadline for mail voting. The case’s ruling came from a panel that included a judge appointed by Mr. Trump to the Court of Appeals.

The Pennsylvania State Court and the Wisconsin Federal Court, which extend the deadline for receiving mail ballots, are now in front of the US Supreme Court, which is expected to be confirmed by Judge Amy Coney Barrett. You may soon have a more definitive conservative majority.

Voting attorneys are preparing for an additional 11 hours of uncertainty, depending on the Supreme Court’s decision in a Pennsylvania case. This could pave the way for more state-level proceedings to enter the federal court system.

The Court of Appeals and some Supreme Court decisions generally indicate that federal courts should not bring decisions that affect state voting rules too close to elections, and courts invalidate local voting laws regarding election deadlines. It is based on the idea that you should hesitate to. Voting requirements.

Mandy Merritt, a national spokesman for the Republican National Committee, celebrated the party’s victory in appeals with the Democratic Party’s “fundamental attempt to thoroughly review the electoral system” and the built-in “election integrity.” I portrayed them as a necessary check against the law.

Attorneys on both sides are reluctant to attribute partisan motives to sitting judges. And the decision sometimes went against the ideological identity.

For example, in Minnesota, as Mr. Trump’s appointed federal judge upheld the Rhode Island agreement that Mr. Trump’s appointed federal judge would suspend strict state rules requiring voting. , Refused to attempt to postpone the Republican mail vote extension deadline. There are two witness signatures or notaries. The Supreme Court disagrees with the Rhode Island ruling in a decision that Judge John G. Roberts Jr. and Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh have chosen not to join the three Conservative oppositions. I dismissed the complaint.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump had a major impact on the balance of the federal bench. Since taking office, Mr. Trump has prioritized the appointment of judges in the Court of Appeals, and his choices have certainly tended to be more conservative than past Republican appointees, and currently account for more than 25 percent of all active appeal judges. Occupies.

“One of the stories of the Trump administration was a laser-like focus on getting young, ideologically conservative judges in the Court of Appeals,” said a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution. Russell Wheeler, a former deputy director of the Federal Judicial Center, said. Research and education department of the federal court system.

Broadly speaking, when it comes to voting rights, modern conservative law warns of federal racial protection (enacted to eradicate decades of deliberate disfranchisement). Tends to, despite any evidence, prioritizes state rights to impose restrictions to prevent fraud. Beyond the need to protect access to voting, it may or may not be visible.

Progressive activists who propelled the expansion of the Supreme Court funded recent studies that found partisan patterns in voting decisions, and Trump’s appointees so-called “anti-democratic” in 85% of election-related cases. I heard you concluded that you made a “democracy” decision.

“The elections have been successful and the circuit court is now more conservative than when Donald Trump took office,” said Professor Nathaniel Persily of Stanford University Law School, which specializes in voting rights and election law. I will. “It’s not surprising that the panel, on average, becomes more conservative in the way it arbitrates these voting cases.”

Mr. Trump has changed the ideological balance of two specific courts of appeal that have jurisdiction over the states that may ultimately decide the election. The 3rd circuit, which covers Pennsylvania, and the 11th circuit, which covers Florida and Georgia.

He also drastically consumed the liberal majority of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, including the competitive situation in Arizona and Nevada.

The circuit that oversees Texas has long been known for its conservatism, but the three Trump appointees who made recent decisions about Dropbox were particularly formidable allies for the Republicans.

The Democratic Party has shown that at the Federal Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, it is developing a strategy for the final stages of the campaign, at least consistently with the idea that it is unlikely to win. They said they wanted to run out of margins that were too large to overcome legal issues.

“Plan A is a decisive win so that a few proceedings do not affect the outcome,” said Ben Wickler, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

Some Democrats say that court decisions in the days or weeks just before the election day can cause confusion that Mr. Trump may try to abuse while challenging the outcome of the defeat. He said he was concerned. (For example, a Texas state judge on Thursday opposed Mr. Abbott’s dropbox restrictions, effectively invalidating the federal appeal decision and obscuring the issue until next month’s elections.)

The higher the level of confusion, the more likely the final result will be in front of the judge, Persily said.

“The most important thing is that there are currently clear rules about how this election will take place,” he said. “There are good and bad rules, but it’s better to have rules than no rules at all. The higher the uncertainty that the court is currently injecting into the process, the more likely it is that a post-election proceeding will occur. It will be higher. “

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