Federal judge orders Ohio’s Husted back to court

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R)
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R)
Associated Press

Last week, a federal judge ordered Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) to leave the state’s early-voting window open for all of the state’s eligible voters, overturning a Republican law approved last year. Husted’s next step should have been, obviously, establishing expanded hours for early voting and setting a statewide schedule.

But Husted had other ideas. On Tuesday, the Republican official, who helps oversee Ohio’s elections process, said he intended to ignore the court ruling until after an appeal.

I’m not an attorney, but it’s my understanding that federal courts get a little peeved when someone tries to ignore their decisions.

A federal judge ordered Secretary of State Jon Husted on Wednesday to personally appear next week at a hearing about his reluctance to restore early voting the weekend before the Nov. 6 election.

Judge Peter Economus, whose ruling Husted has resisted, scheduled the hearing on Sept. 13 in the U.S. District Court in Columbus.

Economus set the hearing after President Barack Obama’s re-election team filed a motion Wednesday requesting the court to enforce its order to restore in-person early voting during the final three days before the presidential election.

Rick Hasen posted a copy of yesterday’s order.

From Husted’s perspective, his appeal is likely to work – the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has a reputation for a conservative-friendly circuit – so he doesn’t see any point to making it easier for his own constituents to cast ballots during the upcoming election. On the contrary, as a Republican official, Husted is eager to make it more difficult for Ohio voters to participate, not less.

Unfortunately for the Ohio Secretary of State, however, judges don’t much care about defendants’ expectations. Economus issued a ruling and he wants Husted to follow it. Decisions from federal courts are not suggestions and they’re not optional.