NewsElection 2020

Actions

How can the Supreme Court, other federal courts impact the 2020 election?

Supreme Court
Posted at 5:50 PM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 10:05:10-04

(LEX 18) — The U.S Senate plans to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the process to put her on the bench has been a battle between Democrats and Republicans because of the timing.

With eight days until election night, a concern some people have is that the election outcome could go to the Supreme Court. With Barrett on the court, the conservatives will have a majority.

However, voting rights expert Joshua Douglas believes the likelihood that the Supreme Court decides the election is pretty small.

"A lot of things would have to go wrong," said Douglas, who teaches at the University of Kentucky's College of Law. "And also, the count would have to be very close in one or more key states."

Although Douglas believes there are reasons why people should be paying such close attention to judicial appointments.

"In terms of why this matters - we're supposed to have a constitutional right to vote. And yet, what we see is the federal courts really devaluing that right and making it harder for people to participate even in a pandemic," said Douglas. "So the courts matter a lot, who's on the courts matters a lot, and what they think about the most precious right in our democracy has a big effect on how we run our election, and it could ultimately impact the outcome."

Douglas points to several examples where federal courts have reversed rulings that made it easier to vote.

"In many of those cases, the lower federal court judges granted relief to voting rights plaintiffs and expanded the ability to vote during the pandemic, only to see the federal appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court reverse it," said Douglas.