The Slatest

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Reminds the Trump Campaign That Voter Intimidation Is Illegal

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Washington, D.C., on March 18, 2015.

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has a message for conservatives eager to engage in “ballot security” at the Ohio polls: don’t.

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to intervene in a legal battle between the Ohio Democratic Party and the Donald Trump campaign. Democrats had urged the courts to explicitly forbid Trump’s campaign from harassing voters at the polls on Tuesday after Trump and his surrogates suggested Republicans should monitor “certain areas” to prevent voter fraud. On Friday, a federal judge granted the order, barring both Trump’s campaign and Roger Stone’s “Stop the Steal” operation from “harassing,” “intimidating,” “delaying,” or “interrogating” voters—as their recent comments suggested they might do. But a conservative panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit blocked that order on Sunday without even issuing an explanation for its actions.

Democrats promptly asked the Supreme Court to restore the order and explicitly tell conservative operatives not to engage in “interfering with, or verbally harassing voters or prospective voters inside polling places.” The justices declined to do so on Monday with no noted dissents. However, Ginsburg attached an interesting comment to the high court’s decision, which she joined, not to overturn the 6th Circuit’s order. Ohio law, she noted, “proscribes voter intimidation,” including any attempt to “obstruct, intimidate, or interfere with an elector in registering or voting at a place of registration or election.”

“Mindful” of this statute, she wrote, “I vote to deny the application.”

Ginsburg may simply have been noting that Ohio law already forbids voter intimidation, so restoring the restraining order would be unnecessary. Or she could be reminding the Trump campaign that it is bound by law to respect the will of the voters—no matter what the court says about the restraining order—and that it is legally bound to refrain from interfering with the electoral process. Perhaps the Notorious RBG couldn’t let this election end without one last jab at the man whose lawlessness she so despises.