Sun, January 16, 2022


Supreme Court dismisses bid to overturn the presidential election results, blocking Trump's legal path

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a long-shot bid by President Donald Trump and the state of Texas to overturn the results in four states won by Democrat Joe Biden, blocking the president's legal path to reverse his reelection loss.

The court's unsigned order was short: "Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot."

Justices Samuel Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas said they did not believe the court had the authority to simply reject a state's filing, a position they have taken in the past. But they said they would not have allowed Texas more than that.

"I would . . . grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue," Alito wrote in a statement joined by Thomas.

Taking into account an earlier case from Pennsylvania, it means that in two cases to reach the court - where conservatives hold a 6 to 3 majority - no justice has expressed support for the drastic idea of throwing out election results.

Trump, who has appointed three of the court's nine members, has long viewed the Supreme Court as something of an ace-in-the-hole, and Friday called for the justices to display "courage" and rescue him in post-election litigation.

After Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September, Trump said filling the seat was essential because of the possibility of litigation that might otherwise end in a tie. Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed in a party-line vote by the Republican-controlled Senate to replace Ginsburg.

In a case earlier this week, the court turned down a request from Republican congressional candidates to overturn the results in Pennsylvania in a one-sentence order. Barrett took part in the case, but neither she nor fellow Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch or Brett Kavanaugh noted their objection.

Trump has refused to acknowledge defeat, instead embarking on a noisy campaign to discredit the election. He has made unproven charges of corruption and a rigged election in states he lost and unsubstantiated claims of illegal voting, votes switched by computer software and rampant fraud.

None have come close to being proven, and Attorney General William Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents running down specific complaints and information "have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election."

Legal efforts by Trump and his allies filed in states he lost have been stunningly unsuccessful - one minor win compared to more than 50 losses in state and federal courts at both the trial and appellate level.

In one case that reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, the comeuppance was delivered by a judge Trump had nominated.

"Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious," wrote Judge Stephanos Bibas. "But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof."

Lawsuits continue around the country, but the Texas case was the one Trump and his allies had pinned their hopes upon.

The election results have been certified in each state, and the Electoral College is scheduled to meet Monday. Biden has 306 electoral votes, exactly the number Trump had when he was elected in 2016. But while Trump lost the popular vote then, Biden has a margin of more than 7 million votes.

Texas, led by Trump partisan Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, tried to maneuver around the lower court losses by filing directly with the Supreme Court. States suing other states are allowed to ask the court to take up the case, although the court sometimes does not grant permission.

Trump tweeted that it was the "big one" that "everyone has been waiting for."

Texas charged that actions by state officials in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin violated the Constitution, and diluted the impact of Texas voters.

Its major complaint was that state officials and courts in those states had changed election procedures to make it easier to vote by mail or other methods. It said that violated the Constitution's direction that "the legislature" of each state set voting procedures.

It asked the justices to block those states from casting their combined 62 electoral votes for Biden and order the state legislatures, all Republican-controlled, to appoint either new electors or none at all. That would require the court to set aside the results in those states, which Biden won by a combined 300,000 votes.

Trump asked to intervene in the suit and 17 attorneys general from states where Trump won joined in - even when their own states had voting procedures altered by state officials or courts. A majority of House Republicans urged the Supreme Court to take the case.

The targeted states responded in blistering briefs, with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro calling the Texas suit a "seditious abuse of the judicial process."

Wisconsin Attorney General Joshua Kaul, a Democrat, said agreeing to the Texas request would thrust the court into the political sphere in a way never imagined.

"If Texas's theory of injury were accepted , it would be too easy to reframe virtually any election or voting rights dispute as implicating injuries to a state and thereby invoke this court's original jurisdiction," he wrote.

"New York or California could sue Texas or Alabama in this court over their felon-disenfranchisement policies. Garden-variety election disputes would soon come to the court in droves."

The states said Texas's claims were hypocritical and cynical. Although Texas said in a filing that it "does not ask this court to reelect President Trump," the suit does not ask the court to discount the votes in any state Trump won where state officials and courts altered voting procedures because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among those states are Texas itself, where the governor made changes.

The case is Texas v. Pennsylvania.

Published : December 12, 2020

By : The Washington Post · Robert Barnes