US Supreme Court rejects bid to overturn Pennsylvania vote

Donald Trump and Republicans hoped the court would throw out votes and flip Pennsylvania from Biden to Trump.

Supporters of United States President Donald Trump protest outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on November 8, 2020 [Rebecca Blackwell/AP Photo]

The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Republicans’ last-gasp bid to reverse Pennsylvania’s certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the electoral battleground.

The court without comment refused to call into question the certification process in Pennsylvania.

There were no noted dissents from any of the justices on the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority including three appointees of President Donald Trump. The president had urged the Republican-led Senate to confirm his most recent nominee, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, before the election so she would be able to participate in any election-related cases.

Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf already has certified Biden’s victory and the state’s 20 electors are to meet on December 14 to cast their votes for Biden.

Biden won 306 electoral votes, so even if Pennsylvania’s results had been in doubt, he still would have more than the 270 electoral votes needed to become president.

Republican US Representative Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and other plaintiffs pleaded with the justices to intervene after the state Supreme Court turned away their case.

The Republicans argued that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorise its provisions.

Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats.

The state’s high court said the plaintiffs waited too long to file the challenge and noted the Republicans’ staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively.

In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors.

Meanwhile, the state of Texas on Tuesday asked the US Supreme Court to throw out the voting results in four other states in a long-shot legal gambit intended to help Trump upend his election loss to Biden.

Officials from the four states – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – called the lawsuit a reckless attack on American democracy while legal experts gave it little chance to succeed. The case was filed directly with the Supreme Court rather than with a lower court, as is permitted for certain litigation between states.

The lawsuit, announced by the Republican Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton, targeted election battleground states that Trump lost to Biden after winning them in 2016. The Republican president has falsely claimed that he won re-election and has made baseless allegations of widespread voting fraud.

While the justices are not obligated to hear the case, the court has added the case to its docket.

“There is normally no specific timetable for the court to act in such cases, but Paxton explains that the state will seek expedited consideration of its request,” the US Supreme Court news outlet, SCOTUSblog, reported.

Paul Smith, a professor and election law expert at Georgetown University’s law school, told the Reuters news agency that Texas did not have a legitimate basis for the suit.

“There is no possible way that the state of Texas has standing to complain about how other states counted the votes and how they are about to cast their electoral votes,” Smith said.

The case represents the latest in a series of lawsuits by Trump’s campaign and his supporters intended to reverse the Republican president’s loss to Democrat Biden in the November 3 election. Those efforts have so far failed.

The lawsuit argued that changes made by the four states to voting procedures amid the coronavirus pandemic to expand mail-in voting were unlawful. Texas makes the remarkable request of the Supreme Court to immediately block the four states from using the voting results to appoint presidential electors to the Electoral College, essentially erasing the will of the voters.

Electors in the Electoral College typically are party loyalists who have pledged to vote for the candidate who wins a state’s popular vote. Texas wants the legislatures in the four states to appoint their own slate of electors instead of relying upon the verdict delivered by voters.

Texas also asked the Supreme Court to delay the December 14 date for Electoral College votes to be cast. That date was set by law in 1887.

Democrats and other critics have accused Trump of aiming to reduce public confidence in US election integrity and undermine democracy by trying to subvert the will of the voters.

“The erosion of confidence in our democratic system isn’t attributable to the good people of Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia or Pennsylvania but rather to partisan officials, like Mr Paxton, who place loyalty to a person over loyalty to their country,” said Michigan’s Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Paxton, an ally of Trump on a range of issues, faces allegations in Texas of bribery and abuse of his office to benefit a political donor and, according to reports, is under investigation by the FBI.

Trump retweeted several Twitter posts expressing support for the lawsuit, including two that called for other states to join it.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said, “These continued attacks on our fair and free election system are beyond meritless, beyond reckless.” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, called the lawsuit “genuinely embarrassing” and an “attack on our democracy”.

A spokeswoman for Georgia’s attorney general’s office said: “With all due respect, the Texas attorney general is constitutionally, legally and factually wrong about Georgia.” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is a Republican.

Tuesday represents a “safe harbor” early deadline under the law for states to certify the election results.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies