Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar, Nos. 20A53, 20A54, 20-542 (S. Ct.) (absentee ballot deadlines)
Complaint Filed: July 10, 2020
Current Status or Final Disposition: Emergency Applications for Stay Denied (October 19, 2020); Petition for Writ of Certiorari Pending (October 23, 2020); Motion to Recuse Filed and Subsequently Withdrawn (October 27, 2020); Motion for Expedited Consideration of Petition for Writ of Certiorari Denied (October 28, 2020); Order Regarding County Boards of Election (November 6, 2020)
Summary: The Pennsylvania Democratic Party sued Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Boockvar and others seeking to extend the deadline for accepting absentee and mail-in ballots beyond November 3 if postmarked by November 3. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court exercised its Extraordinary Jurisdiction to interpret Pennsylvania’s Act 77, which allows all electors to vote by mail without proving that they will be absent on Election Day, and extended the absentee ballot receipt deadline by three days to prevent the disenfranchisement of voters. The defendants alleged that this action violates the U.S. Constitution. Several republican state officials and the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, as intervenor-respondents, applied for a partial stay of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s judgment. After that stay was denied, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and the republican state officials filed emergency applications for stay of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order with the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court denied those emergency applications for stay in a 4-4 vote. After the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania asked the Court to rule on the merits of the case before November 3 by filing a petition for writ of certiorari seeking a decision on the merits of the underlying constitutional issues accompanied by a motion for expedited consideration. The motion for expedited consideration was denied by a 5-3 vote, but the writ remains to be decided after the election. The Luzerne County Board of Elections in Pennsylvania filed a recusal motion as to Justice Barrett with respect to the writ and the motion for expedited review, which it then withdrew the same day after Justice Barrett recused herself from hearing the motion on the grounds that she would not have had time to fully review the filings. Following the November 3 Election, Justice Alito issued an order to the county boards of election to segregate all ballots received by mail after 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, and to count those ballots separately.