Supreme Court issues rare emergency order favoring voters challenging elections rules

With the new news, the Supreme Court on Friday sided with black voters who challenged Georgia’s system of electing members of the state’s Public Service Commission that regulates public utilities in the state.

This move by a conservative court to favor voters with voters over state officials in disputes regarding election rules was a rare example, especially when the court is called to act on an emergency basis.

The Supreme Court reinstated a district court’s decision that needed to postpone this year’s election to the commission’s two seats so that the legislature could create a new system for election commissioners.

The Supreme Court’s unsigned order left the door open for state Republican officials to try again around Georgia’s rules to revive the commission for November’s election.

Georgia indicated in a court filing that it would not ask the trial judge’s order to stay for the court of appeals again before the November election, while the appeal was made on merit.

Nico Martinez, a partner at Bartlit Beck LLP, who represents the challengers, said the Supreme Court order is an important step toward ensuring that this November’s PSC elections are not using the method to be held in Georgia.

The commission is Georgia’s investor-owned utilities such as power plants and telecommunications. Among the duties are to set residential, commercial and industrial utility rates.

Each of the commission’s five seats is assigned a specific district where the commissioner must reside, but the commissioners themselves are elected in statewide elections on a six-year calendar.

But the judge’s decision was then overturned by the US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, prompting voters to seek Supreme Court intervention this week.

Arguments in the appeal centered on the so-called Purcell Doctrine which discourages federal court actions that would disrupt election planning near the election.

The Supreme Court said that the 11th Circuit should not have used the doctrine to justify the stay of the trial judge’s order. If you appeal any decision against it.

The Supreme Court’s order comes after a string of cases in which justices were broken on ideological grounds whether to overturn lower court decisions in favor of voting rights advocates in the upcoming elections.

In redistributing cases to Alabama and Louisiana, a conservative majority overturned lower court rulings that would have required maps found to be illegal before November’s elections.

The High Court refused to overturn some decisions in which the Supreme Court of a state instead of the federal courts ordered the redrawing of the map. During the 2020 election, the Supreme Court overturned several lower court decisions that would have made voting easier during the pandemic.

Many of those orders have been handed down without explanation by the majority, but on some occasions conservative judges have written to emphasize that their moves were motivated by adherence to the Purcell Doctrine.

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