The Supreme Court just bulldozed precedent to make it harder for Native Americans to vote

With just a month left, voters might not even have time to try to comply with these requirements before Election Day. Even if they did, it’s not clear the state could keep up. The district court found about 20 percent of those expected to vote wouldn’t meet the new ID requirements. Around 18,000 people wouldn’t be able to provide either adequate ID or supplementary documentation. 

Neither precedent nor policy swayed the Eighth Circuit, which hears federal appeals from Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.

The Eighth Circuit decided on Sept. 24 that the state law should go into effect after all. The Supreme Court didn’t back the Eighth Circuit until Tuesday, less than one month before the November election.

Understandably, justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan dissented from the Supreme Court’s refusal to reverse the Eighth Circuit’s decision. 

[L]ast-minute “[c]ourt orders affecting elections, especially conflicting orders, can themselves result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls.” The risk of voter confusion appears severe here because the injunction against requiring residential-address identification was in force during the primary election and because the Secretary of State’s website announced for months the ID requirements as they existed under that injunction. Reasonable voters may well assume that the IDs allowing them to vote in the primary election would remain valid in the general election.

Newly sworn-in Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not take part in this decision, but it’s just a matter of time before he begins dealing blows to the Native American community. Remember this gem?

In 1999, Kavanaugh co-wrote an amicus brief, as an attorney, (on behalf of a group that opposes minority rights and affirmative action) he argued that a Hawaii law allowing only Native Hawaiians to vote for trustees of a state office, an original treaty between the US and Native Hawaiians to compensate Native Hawaiians for land that had been taken from their ancestors, was unconstitutional [Rice v. Cayetano, 528 U.S. 495 (D.C. Cir. 2000)].

Native American rights and franchise won’t fare well under Trump’s Supreme Court. This is just the beginning.

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