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Government Law Center at Albany Law School Releases Explainer on the Role of the United States Supreme Court in Hearing Election Cases

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With less than three months before Election Day and the recent surge in election-related court cases, the Government Law Center at Albany Law School has released a new explainer describing the authority of the federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court, in cases relating to the 2020 presidential election.

The explainer examines what role the federal courts have in hearing and deciding election cases. This includes (1) pre-election cases, where a ruling can determine such important issues as who has the right to vote, and (2) post-election battles, where, as in the Bush v. Gore case in 2000, the decision of the Supreme Court determined the winner of the election.

The explainer also raises the question of how citizens might respond if this year's presidential election comes down to a final decision of the country's highest court.

"When the Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore, the public, with its great respect for the Court, accepted its decision," said GLC Legal Director Richard Rifkin, author of the explainer. "But the American political landscape has changed strikingly since 2000, as partisanship and divisiveness are now embedded in our society. Would the nation show the same respect for the Court as it did in 2000 and again accept its decision should the outcome of this year's presidential election fall to the Court's nine justices? Unfortunately, we cannot be certain."

The explainer is the latest in a series from the Government Law Center that maps out the law applicable to important questions of public policy. The Center has previously written explainer documents on immigration, aging and disability policies, and economic relief for small businesses.

The Center presented a webinar earlier this year on voting in the 2020 elections as part of its Warren M. Anderson Legislative Series, which offers programs designed to explore current significant policy issues.

The Government Law Center at Albany Law School helps state and local governments better serve their communities while training the next generation of leaders in public service. We are a diverse and inclusive group of practitioners, students, and scholars working together to produce high-quality, reliable, nonpartisan legal research and analysis