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SPLC: SCOTUS Ruling in Alabama COVID-19 Voting Case 'Has Curtailed the Voting Rights of Vulnerable Citizens'

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wednesday evening, the Supreme Court of the United States granted an application for stay brought by the defendants in the People First of Alabama v. John Merrill litigation, thereby preventing Alabama counties from setting up curbside voting for the general election on November 3. The following statement is by Caren Short, senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center: 

“Once again, the Supreme Court’s 'shadow docket' – where orders are issued without written explanation – has curtailed the voting rights of vulnerable citizens amidst a once-in-a-century public health crisis. After a 2-week trial, a federal judge allowed counties in Alabama to implement curbside voting so that high-risk voters could avoid crowded polling locations. Tonight’s order prevents counties from even making that decision for themselves. Already common in counties and states around the country before 2020, curbside voting is a practice urged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and should be a no-brainer to implement everywhere during a pandemic; the Alabama Secretary of State unfortunately disagrees, as does the Supreme Court.

“Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent powerfully quotes one of our clients, Howard Porter, Jr., who is a Black Alabamian with asthma and Parkinson’s Disease in his seventies: ‘[S]o many of my [ancestors] even died to vote. And while I don’t mind dying to vote, I think we’re past that – we’re past that time.’”

To view the full order, along with Justice Sotomayor's written dissent that was joined by Justices Breyer and Kagan, please visit: