By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2014, 2:49pm PT  

Bad news for voters in the Buckeye State. Good news for partisan Republicans who prefer to win elections by making it more difficult for voters to vote.

In a 5 to 4 decision, the Rightwingers on the U.S. Supreme Court have now overturned the 6th Circuit's earlier ruling that had blocked Ohio Republicans' attempt to limit early voting by shortening the Early Voting period by one week, eliminating the week where voters could both register and vote on the same day, and by doing away with Sunday voting before the election...

From UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen...

Via SCOTUSBlog comes this Supreme Court order staying the district court's order preventing various cutbacks in early voting (including a cutback from 35 to 28 days, and elimination of one of the two early voting days on a Sunday, a day African-American churches had been using for "Souls to the Polls" voter drives). [It is not clear from earlier orders which Sunday might be eliminated.]

Although the order is "temporary" in the sense that it will be in place pending a ruling on a cert. petition ultimately to be filed by Ohio in the Supreme Court, that won't happen before this election, and so for this election the new shorter voting period is in effect --- and not the old rules put back in place by the district court and affirmed by the 6th Circuit.

That the Court divided 5-4 along liberal conservative lines is no surprise...

See Hasen's coverage for his analysis of what happened here, and why he believes it was a mistake to even challenge the OH Republicans' new restrictions on early voting. Please note: We don't necessarily agree or disagree with his analysis, at this time. But you can read it and decide for yourself.

Our most recent coverage of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeal's decision to uphold the lower District Court decision blocking the GOP voting restrictions is here.

The GOP in Ohio has been attempting to shorten and otherwise restrict Early Voting in the state ever since reforms put in place in 2005 --- in response to the embarrassingly disastrous 2004 Presidential Election there --- worked well enough that most of the problems voter had voting had disappeared by 2008. As we have documented over the years, every time they tried to limit those successful reforms, the courts had blocked them from doing so. They did so again this year, until today's 5 to 4 ruling by the Supremes.

It should also be noted that it is, arguably, because John Kerry failed to keep his promise and fight to make sure every vote was counted in Ohio's contested 2004 election, that the U.S. Supreme Court has now gone so hard to the right, with the addition of Justices Roberts and Alito during George W. Bush's second term.

With today's SCOTUS ruling, and the bad news from the partisans on the 7th Circuit concerning WI Republicans' draconian Photo ID voting restrictions, as our legal analyst Ernie Canning detailed this morning, it seems many of this year's most important elections may be won, or lost, in the courts --- before Election Day even gets here.

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