The Daily Brew: Election law case goes before SCOTUS today

Welcome to the Tuesday, March 2, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Election law case goes before SCOTUS today
  2. Updates on coronavirus recovery
  3. March 2 elections preview

Election law case goes before SCOTUS today

Last week, I wrote about the upcoming Supreme Court (SCOTUS) cases in March. Let’s explore one of those cases, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, in which SCOTUS is hearing oral arguments today, March 2. Here’s some background on the case, which stretches back five years.

  • In 2016, several arms of the Democratic Party (referred to as the DNC) sued Arizona for its out-of-precinct policy and its ballot-collection law. 
    • According to the petition filed in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy “does not count ballots cast in person on Election Day outside voters’ assigned precincts.” Arizona’s ballot-collection law, passed in 2016, prohibits a person other than the voter, a family member, the U.S. Postal Service, or election officials, from handling absentee or mail-in ballots.
    • The DNC stated the above Arizona policy and law violated the First, 14th, and 15th Amendments as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act “by adversely and disparately impacting the electoral opportunities of Hispanic, African American, and Native American Arizonans.”
  • In October 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona held a trial on the merits, ultimately ruling in favor of the state of Arizona. The district court held that the DNC failed to meet its burden for proving a Section 2 claim. 
  • In September 2018, A divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed the lower court’s ruling. In an en banc rehearing, the 9th Circuit granted a preliminary injunction, which the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the next day. On appeal, a divided 9th Circuit panel affirmed the district court’s ruling.
  • In January 2020, in an en banc rehearing, the 9th Circuit reversed the panel’s decision. A 7-4 majority held the out-of-precinct policy violated Section 2, and a 6-5 majority held the ballot-collection law violated Section 2 and the 15th Amendment. 
  • In April 2020, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), in his official capacity, and the Arizona Republican Party, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • In October 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Follow along with us at the link below as we track the case.

Read on

Updates on coronavirus recovery

On Saturday, Feb. 27, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) to pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. The approval allowed Johnson & Johnson to begin distributing vaccine doses this week. 

Below is other news on coronavirus in America that has recently occurred, which we covered in our Documenting America’s Path to Recovery email. Subscribers received this and more in their inboxes yesterday afternoon.

  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): On Monday, Feb. 22, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced a schedule for the state’s age-based distribution expansion. Lamont also said clinics will open in March to focus on vaccinating teachers. 
    • Eligibility expands to individuals ages 55 to 64 on March 1.
    • Eligibility expands to individuals ages 45 to 54 on March 22.
    • Eligibility expands to individuals ages 35 to 44 on April 12.
    • Eligibility expands to individuals ages 16 to 34 on May 3.
  • Georgia (Republican trifecta): On Friday, Feb. 26, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) issued two orders extending the coronavirus state of emergency and coronavirus restrictions and reopening guidance. The first order extends the state of emergency through April 6, while the second extends restrictions and guidance through March 15. 
  • Kentucky (divided government): On Feb. 23, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) issued an executive order recommending all school districts and private schools offer some form of in-person instruction by March 1.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Friday, Feb. 26, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed a bill that would have required schools to provide daily in-person instruction. The state House of Representatives passed the bill 77-42 on Feb. 22, while the state Senate passed the bill 31-16 on Feb. 16. To override Cooper’s veto, the bill will need the support of three-fifths of the members in both chambers of the legislature—that’s 72 votes in the House and 30 votes in the Senate.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Sunday, Feb. 28, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill that waives the 2021 liquor license fee for restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries.

Read on 

March 2 elections preview

March 2 is one of five election days we’re covering this month at Ballotpedia. Here’s a rundown of what we’ll be watching as the results roll in.

  • Mayoral election in St. Louis, Missouri: The city is holding a mayoral primary using an electoral system called approval voting for the first time in the city’s history. Candidates of all political affiliations will appear on the ballot without partisan labels, and voters may choose any number of candidates to vote for. The two candidates receiving the most votes will advance to the general election on April 6. Voters approved the method through the passage of Proposition D in November 2020.
  • City elections in Montpelier, Vermont: The city is holding nonpartisan general elections for three seats on the city council. All three incumbents are running for re-election. District 1 incumbent Lauren Hierl and District 3 incumbent Dan Richardson are facing challenges from Nat Frothingham and Alice Goltz, respectively. District 2 incumbent Jack McCullough is running unopposed.
  • Burlington, Vermont Ranked-Choice Voting Amendment: Voters will decide whether to implement ranked-choice voting (RCV) for city council elections. The city previously used RCV but repealed its use over a decade ago through a ballot initiative petition drive. Question 4 would cause RCV to be used starting in March 2022.
  • Rhode Island bond issues: Rhode Island voters will decide seven statewide bond issues. Governor Gina Raimondo (D) certified the bond issues for the March ballot when she signed the 2021 fiscal year budget on Dec. 18, 2020. The seven bond issues total $400 million for projects ranging from higher education, state beaches, recreational facilities, transportation, early childhood care, and industrial infrastructure.
  • State legislative special elections: Four states are holding state legislative special elections.