OH Judge: 'I Don't Want to See Democracy Die in the Darkness'
In Ohio, Secretary of State Jon Husted's 11th hour directive that could cause legitimate provisional ballots to be thrown out is being challenged in a federal court by voting rights advocates. On Election Day, provisional ballots were cast by voters whose registration or identification was called into question for some reason when they went to the polls. Aftermultiplecourtsensured that early voting would remain intact in Ohio, despite Husted's efforts to restrict it, at 7pm on the Friday before voting began, Husted issued a directive that shifted the burden of correctly filling in a provisional ballot from the poll workers to the voters, and instructed officials to throw out any ballots with incorrect information.
On Wednesday, the day after Election Day, Husted sent his lawyers to US District Judge Algenon Marbley's court room once again. Arnold Epstein represented the state of Ohio, and was responsible for defending Husted's directive. The transcript shows that Judge Marbley challenged Epstein again and again over the directive:
THE COURT: It only became the voter's burden after the secretary declared it was the voter's burden and sent you in here to defend it. You haven't been able to show me any law that would justify that, nor have you shown me any facts that would require him to change it.
THE COURT: Show me where it's meant. Show me the legislative history. Show me the facts that the secretary used to make the decision to change this directive at seven o'clock on a Friday night on the eve of an election. I want to see it, and I want to see it now. Show it to me.
MR. EPSTEIN: Your Honor, I have no legislative history to present to the Court.
A ruling in this case is expected later today. Provisional ballots will be counted on November 17th in Ohio. Although the outcome of this election has already been decided, Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic argues that this court case matters in terms of having accurate data on the final popular vote count in Ohio for the 2012 election and it matters in terms of setting a legal precedent for future elections.
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 08/13/12, 09/10/12, 10/08/12, 10/17/12, 11/07/12; Think Progress 11/03/12, The Atlantic 11/04/12, 11/08/12; Court Document 11/07/12
11/20/2014 Federal Appeals Court Rejects Priests for Life Challenge to Birth Control Coverage Rule - In a victory for women's health, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Friday rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit brought by Priests for Life, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington and other religiously affiliated non-profit organizations.
Judge Nina Pillard, a former law professor who was nominated to the DC Circuit by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in December, wrote the opinion for the Court, which found that the ACA birth control benefit did not substantially burden or violate non-profits' religious freedom.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies must cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives - including the pill, IUDs, and emergency contraception - without requiring co-pays or cost-sharing. . . .