The Supreme Court on Thursday at 10 a.m. ET will issue the last two opinions of the term in highly anticipated cases involving the Voting Rights Act and charitable donor disclosures that could have an impact on political donations.
All eyes will also be on Justice Stephen Breyer, who during the final days of the Supreme Court session has written decisions preserving the Affordable Care Act and bolstering student free speech, has been the subject of speculation over his future on the bench.
Here is a look at the last two cases where justices will deliver opinions.
Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee
The Supreme Court is considering two Arizona voting rules that the Democratic National Committee says violate the historic Voting Rights Act that prohibits laws that result in racial discrimination.
One provision wholly rejects ballots cast in the wrong precinct. Another says that only certain persons – family, caregivers, mail carriers and elections officials – may deliver another person’s completed ballot to the polling place.
This is the most significant voting rights case the court has heard since 2013’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 5-4 majority opinion effectively gutting Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a provision that required states with a history of discrimination to obtain the permission of the federal government or the courts before enacting new laws related to voting.
Since that decision, challengers to voting restrictions have increasingly turned to Section 2 of the law, that holds that no voting regulation can be imposed that “results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” Democrats fear the new conservative majority on the court will now weaken Section 2. Conservatives, on the other hand hope the court will give the states more power to pass what they consider ballot protection provisions.
The case comes as Republican state legislators across the country are also moving to pass laws that restrict voting access. State legislators have introduced 389 bills with restrictive provisions in 48 states as of May 14 and more than 20 new laws restricting voting have been enacted this year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
Dark money and donor disclosure
At issue is a challenge brought by conservative non-profits Americans for Prosperity (a Koch-affiliated group) and the Thomas More Law Center, to a California regulation that requires charitable organizations that solicit donations to disclose a list of their contributors to the state attorney general.
The groups say they want to keep their donors secret and that the state has not shown a compelling reason for the rule. They argue it will chill contributors from coming forward for fear of harassment – in violation of the First Amendment. Although the information is supposed to be confidential, the groups point out that the state has made inadvertent disclosures.
In response, California argues that the groups already have to file the same data with the IRS and the state needs the information as it tries to combat fraud related to charities. Three other states – New York, New Jersey and Hawaii – have similar laws.