WASHINGTON — Four months after upholding his signature health care law, the Supreme Court handed President Obama another victory Tuesday that could boost his chances for re-election.
In a 17-word sentence, the court assured that voters in Ohio â€” arguably the most crucial of the swing states in the Nov. 6 election â€” can cast ballots at polling places right up until Election Day.
Ohio’s GOP leaders were seeking to end early voting three days before Election Day, except for military and overseas voters. Because minorities, young people and workers tend to make greater use of early voting, Obama stood to lose and Republican Mitt Romney stood to gain.
The Obama campaign and Ohio Democrats sued the state over the law, and lower courts had blocked implementation on the basis that it favored military and overseas voters over others. State officials asked the Supreme Court to set aside those verdicts or hear their appeal. Their request went to Justice Elena Kagan, who referred it to the full court.
The court refused without explanation: “The application for stay presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court is denied.”
The Obama re-election campaign and liberal voting rights organizations hailed the decision. Obama campaign general counsel Bob Bauer said it “marks the end of the road in our fight to ensure open voting this year for all Ohioans.”
Democrats argued that nearly 100,000 people voted in Ohio in the final three days before the 2008 election. Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said black voters stand to benefit the most because in early voting, “they vote at such a greater rate than white voters.”
Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights group, said the case “could be read as a very significant win for voting rights” because it asserts federal authority over states. Fifteen states with Republican attorneys general had backed Ohio in its challenge.
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