U.S. Supreme Court again rejects North Carolina Republicans in absentee ballot dispute

FILE PHOTO: General view of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S., July 6, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo

(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected another bid by North Carolina Republicans to block the extension of a deadline for receiving mail-in ballots for next Tuesday’s election.

In a brief order, the justices denied a request by Republican lawmakers in the state to put on hold an agreement made by state election officials allowing the extension that a North Carolina state court had approved. The justices on Wednesday rebuffed a separate bid by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign to block the deadline extension through federal courts.

Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they would have granted the Republican request to block the ballot deadline extension. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the court on Tuesday as Trump’s third appointee, did not participate in the case. Barrett did not have time to fully review the case filings, a court spokeswoman said in a statement.

The state election board, citing potential U.S. Postal Service mail delivery delays, had opted to allow absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted if they arrived up to nine days later.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday also delivered a setback to Republicans in a similar dispute in Pennsylvania, declining to expedite a decision on whether to hear a Republican bid to block an extended mail-in ballots deadline in that state.

Both states are to pivotal to Trump’s re-election chances against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Editing by Will Dunham