Friday, the Supreme Court delivered an emergency order siding with Black voters who challenged Georgia’s method of choosing members to the Public Service Commission, which governs the state’s public utilities.
Observers of the court believe this an unusual instance of the conservative court siding with voters against state officials in conflicts over election regulations.
“Typically, election litigation goes rapidly. Typically, a lower court may announce a preliminary judgement just days or weeks before an election (or a significant election-related event, such as the mailing of absentee votes), leaving little time for the losing party to file a full-fledged appeal.
In such situations, the losing party may make an emergency request with the Supreme Court requesting a stay of the lower court’s judgement while the regular appeal is underway. This is known as requesting a stay.
According to the SCOTUS Blog, “while stays are intended to be temporary, they frequently address the question at the core of the pending election dispute.”
According to media accounts, the Supreme Court reinstated a lower court’s order mandating that this year’s election for two commission seats be postponed so that the legislature may design a new mechanism for choosing commissioners.
“The Supreme Court’s unsigned order left the door open for Georgia’s Republican authorities to attempt again to get the state’s standards for choosing the commission reinstated for the November election. CNN reported Tuesday that Georgia suggested in a court filing late Friday that it would not ask the appeals court to stop the trial judge’s ruling before the November election while the merits appeal played out.
“The case began when a group of Black leaders sued the state, claiming the Republican-controlled General Assembly approved a redistricting plan last year that dilutes the Black vote in two of the five PSC districts,” Conservative Brief’s Martin Walsh wrote.
Earlier this month, a judge postponed two November elections in Georgia for the Public Service Commission on the grounds that the voting framework disenfranchises Black voters.
More on this story via The Republic Brief:
Almost immediately after that ruling, an appeals court reversed the decision, pending the state’s appeal of that first ruling.
And then, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the elections should not proceed while the appeal continues.
Walsh added more details:
The case is being closely watched because the state’s Public Service Commission, among other responsibilities, sets customers’ utility rates and oversees the construction budget of projects. CONTINUE READING…