Texas Flag

Source:  Hank Berrien

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled for the state of Texas and against the Texas Democratic Party, as they decided to leave in place a lower court ruling that rejected Democrats’ attempts to let all eligible voters in Texas vote by mail.

As Reuters explained, “Texas state law makes mail-in ballots available only for people age 65 and older or for voters who meet specific disability guidelines. The state Democratic Party and some voters sued the Republican-governed state, arguing that by treating voters differently by age, the Texas law violated the U.S. Constitution’s 26th Amendment guarantee of the right to vote for American citizens age 18 and above.”

The 26thAmendment reads that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of age.”

“The election results showed that Democratic voters in particular relied upon mail-in ballots … Biden’s victory over Trump was propelled by voters who cast ballots by mail in crucial battleground states,” Reuters noted.

In June, the Supreme Court rejected the Texas Democrats when the court refused to reinstate an injunction issued last May by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery allowing all eligible voters to vote by mail without an excuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of Texas appealed Biery’s decision; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit agreed to stay Biery’s order until the appeal was resolved. On September 10, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit lifted Biery’s injunction. The court wrote:

The record indicates Texas is taking the kinds of precautions for voting that are being used in other endeavors during the pandemic. None of them guarantees protection. There are quite reasonable concerns about voting in person, but the state’s mandating that many voters continue to vote in that way does not amount to an absolute prohibition of the right to vote. As to abridgement, voters under age 65 did not have no-excuse absentee voting prior to the pandemic. Further, requiring many to vote in person during this crisis, with safety measures being imposed and some flexibility as to “disability” being shown, does not amount to an unconstitutional status quo. The real issue here is equal protection, and that is not before us.

The 5th Circuit added:

In sum, the plaintiffs based their Twenty-Sixth Amendment claim on the argument that differential treatment in allowing voters aged 65 and older to vote by mail without excuse constitutes, at least during the pandemic, a denial or abridgment of a younger citizen’s right to vote on account of age. This claim fails because adding a benefit to another class of voters does not deny or abridge the plaintiffs’ Twenty-Sixth Amendment right to vote. The preliminary injunction was not properly granted on the plaintiffs’ Twenty- Sixth Amendment claim as it has been defended in this appeal.

We VACATE the injunction and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.