After the lower court ruled in Jan. that Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting legislation violated the state constitution, the high court upheld it on a party-line vote.
The state’s mail-in voting legislation, Act 77, was upheld by the state’s partisan Supreme Court in a 5-2 decision released this week; only two of the justices are GOP.
Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy opened her dissent with these words:
“Its most glaring oversight is its refusal to acknowledge that the PA Constitution’s election-related solutions have been changed numerous times over the last 160 years, despite this Court’s previous acknowledgment that by default it necessitates in-person voting and that none of those changes were made in order to get rid of, change, or clarify the textual basis for that decision as it is shown in the organic law. The majority shows the popularity of the bill under consideration and the care with which it was discussed, going so far as to quote the margin by how it was passed in each House of the General Assembly and the legislators’ political party affiliation. These comments have no bearing on this case. A statute that is at odds with our state’s Charter can’t be validated through popular support or careful drafting. “The Constitution is a rock against the current mood and passions of that moment, and it can only be changed in a deliberate way under the tight controls set forth by it.”
In her dissent, Mundy said that she has to “respectfully disagree” in light of the majority opinion’s failure to make a compelling case that the state’s charter allows for universal and no-excuse mail-in ballots, especially given its explicit authorization for absentee ballots for four specific groups of voters.
After a thorough study, Mundy came to the following conclusion:
“I have no views on whether no-excuse mail-in voting is in the best interests of the public. That is not my job as a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. My duty is to apply the text of the Pennsylvania Constitution, interpreted in light of its past and judicial precedent, to determine if it can be changed. As a result, I dissent respectfully.”
The state’s legislation, which is less than three years old, was first passed with broad bipartisan support in 2019. Since 2020, the Republican party and other GOP organizations have invested millions of dollars into a campaign for election integrity that has become one of its major focuses.