NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court Monday declined to review last year’s decision by a federal judge that expanded early voting and mail balloting in Louisiana during last fall’s presidential election.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said the case is now moot, rejecting arguments from two key state Republican officials that the ruling by U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick in Baton Rouge was wrong and could set the stage for more such orders.
The ruling from a panel of three judges said in part, “even assuming that issues similar to those that arose in this case as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may come up again in future cases, there is no indication that the parties in those cases will be unable to use the tools available to obtain meaningful review.”
State officials agreed to expand voting opportunities during summer elections to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but were unable to reach accord on the fall elections. Dick ordered similar expansions for November and December balloting. Her Sept. 16 order was the result of a lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates, including the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP and the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice.
Republicans did not try to block the order as the election drew near, but they did appeal the ruling, saying Dick had, in effect, taken over the responsibility of lawmakers when she ordered expanded voting.
Meanwhile, having gotten what they wanted in the fall elections, the plaintiffs in the case sought to dismiss it. Dick agreed to do so at the district court level last week and the 5th Circuit agreed Monday.
Fifth Circuit Judges James Dennis and Kurt Engelhardt considered the case along with Samuel Hicks, chief judge of the U.S. court system's Western District of Louisiana.