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Protesters outside Supreme Court. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday denied a request from Pennsylvania's Republican Party to shorten the deadlines for mail-in ballots in the state. Thanks to the court's 4-4 deadlock, ballots can be counted for several days after Election Day.

Why it matters: It's a major win for Democrats that could decide the fate of thousands of ballots in a crucial swing state that President Trump won in 2016. The court's decision may signal how it would deal with similar election-related litigation in other states.

The state of play: A Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision moved the deadline for absentee ballots to be counted from 8 p.m. on Election Day to 5 p.m. the following Friday, Nov. 6. If the U.S. Supreme Court had granted a stay, it would have resulted in a return to the original deadline.

The big picture: The deadlock underscores the importance for Republicans of confirming Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who the president himself has said could be a deciding vote in an election-related dispute.

  • Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer in denying the application.
  • Conservative justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch said they would have granted the application.
  • When the court is deadlocked, the decision from the lower court remains in place without setting a precedent for future cases.

What they're saying: Republican National Committee national press secretary Mandi Merritt said in a statement, "We are disappointed that the court declined to confront the important issues raised in our motion. The Constitution delegates these issues to elected state legislatures rather than judges for a reason."

  • Marc Elias, a top Democratic elections lawyer, said in a statement, "This is what we mean when we say Democracy is on the Docket."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with reaction to the ruling.

Go deeper

Pennsylvania certifies Biden's victory

Photo: Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pennsylvania officials on Tuesday certified the state's presidential election results, making President-elect Joe Biden's win in the key battleground official.

Why it matters: The move deals another blow to President Trump's failed efforts to block certification in key swing states that he lost to Biden. It also comes one day after officials voted to certify Biden's victory in Michigan.

Trump cancels Pennsylvania trip for GOP hearing on voter fraud claims

President Trumpat the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday canceled his trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he was scheduled to join his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for a Republican-led state Senate Majority Policy Committee hearing on alleged election irregularities.

Driving the news: The cancellation comes after Giuliani was exposed to a second person who tested positive for the coronavirus. It's unclear if that's the reason the trip was cancelled.

23 mins ago - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.

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