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Protesters outside the U.S. Supreme Court Cause in January it is hears arguments in a challenge to Ohio's voter roll purges. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled 5-4 in favor of Ohio's decision to kick thousands of registered voters from its rolls for not voting in recent elections and failing to respond to a notice from state officials.

The big picture: Civil rights groups argued the practice is part of a broader voter suppression effort by Republicans to diminish the political influence of minorities who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. But Republicans have contended that they're simply promoting ballot integrity and that the process keeps the state’s voter registration lists accurate and up-to-date.

  • This is also a victory for President Trump's Justice Department, which has sided with the administration's support for voter eligibility restrictions that it claims will crack down on alleged voter fraud.

The details: All states periodically clean up their voter rolls, but only a handful remove voters simply because they’re inactive. In Ohio, a presidential swing state where the practice could have an even greater impact, the practice is said to be more aggressive than any other.

  • How the system works: Ohio sends notices to registered voters who fail to vote in a two-year period. If they fail to respond and do not vote in the next four years, their names are removed from the rolls.

A 2016 Reuters analysis of voter lists found that in the state’s three largest counties — Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Hamilton (Cincinnati) and Franklin (Columbus) — voters have been kicked off the rolls in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods “at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods.”

  • That's because Republicans are more likely to vote in both congressional elections and presidential contests.
  • It also found that neighborhoods with a high proportion of poor, black residents are hit hardest. Both Republican and Democratic officials in Ohio have purged inactive voters over the past 20 years.

In a thundering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the conservative majority ruling "entirely ignores the history of voter suppression against which the [National Voting Rights Act] was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further the very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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