Supreme Court rules in Ohio case

Republican attempt to bog down Democratic secretary of state unanimously rejected.

By Thomas Schaller
Published October 17, 2008 7:57PM (EDT)

Overturning a lower court decision, the Supreme Court today ruled unanimously against the Ohio Republican Party's attempt to bog down Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner with challenges to the validity of the county voter registration rolls:

In a unanimous 9-0 ruling, the court did not decide whether Brunner was violating federal law by not providing the information, as the Ohio Republican Party contended in its lawsuit.

Rather, the court said it was unlikely that as a private entity, the GOP had the legal authority to sue Brunner on the issue or that the lower court had the power to issue its order in this case.

Justice John Paul Stevens initially reviewed the case but referred the matter for the entire court to decide.

The ruling settles for now a dispute that had worked its way through the lower federal courts in recent days, with district and appellate judges taking different sides on the issue.

Brunner, a first-term Democrat, has argued that Republicans were trying to force her to create a list of voters who could be forced to cast a provisional ballot, which is held for 10 days to determine eligibility and she said is "subject to partisan wrangling and legal fights."

The American Prospect's Andy Serwer and TalkingPoints Memo's David Kurtz have more.

Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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