Democrats in the state had asked the court to allow the counting of ballot papers that arrive up to six days after election day if postmarked by November 3rd.
The verdict was 5-3 just before the Senate decided to add Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Judge Elena Kagan, along with her liberal colleagues Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer, objected to the court’s order.
Last week, the court upheld a Pennsylvania state court ruling extending the postal voting deadline.
Difference Between Pennsylvania and Wisconsin Cases
Unlike last week’s Pennsylvania Order, the Wisconsin Order on Monday concerned a decision by a lower federal court, not a state court, and Chief Justice John Roberts said it made a difference.
A Wisconsin federal district court sided with the Democrats to allow postal ballot papers to be received up to six days after polling day, but an appeals court blocked the order and the Supreme Court upheld the lockdown.
The federal district court, Roberts wrote in a unanimous statement, “intervened in the middle of the election season” to block a state law. He said the case was “federal interference with the state’s legislative processes”.
The Pennsylvania case, on the other hand, was a decision of the state’s highest court. Roberts said the decision “implied the authority of the state courts to apply their own constitutions to electoral law.”
“Different laws and precedents govern these two situations and, in those particular circumstances, require that we allow electoral rules to be changed in Pennsylvania but not in Wisconsin,” wrote Roberts.
It is unclear how long the court will make that distinction after Barrett joins as the ninth member, said Steve Vladeck, CNN legal analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
“The only judiciary that looked at these cases differently from Pennsylvania’s was the Chief Justice, for whom there appears to be a categorical distinction between a Supreme Court extending election deadlines that it refused to change and a federal district court doing the same . ” “Said Vladeck.” But the chief judge’s central role may be short-lived as Judge Barrett is likely to be able to vote on the next election. “
Ballots on time during a pandemic
In their disagreement, Kagan, along with Breyer and Sotomayor, beat the majority as a waiver of voting rights during the pandemic.
“As the COVID pandemic rages,” Kagan wrote, “the court has not adequately protected the nation’s voters.”
Wisconsin constituencies emphasized the importance of voters getting their ballots in well in advance of the decision.
Wisconsin’s electoral commission said in a statement Monday that it “has consistently advised voters to request and return their postal votes as soon as possible to ensure they are received within the legal deadline of 8 p.m. on election day. Today’s decision changes nothing about that. “
This story has been updated with additional information from the judgment and the commentary.
CNN’s Caroline Kelly, Jeremy Herb, Casey Tolan, Caroline Kenny and Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.