Attorneys general in 17 states won by Trump asked the Supreme Court to take up a Texas lawsuit that calls for unprecedented judicial intervention in the presidential election — disallowing the results from four swing states that went for Biden.
Election law experts have been almost universally dismissive of the complaint filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), a Trump ally. But Trump is trying to turn it into something of a showdown at the Supreme Court.
“We will be INTERVENING in the Texas (plus many other states) case,” Trump wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory.”
The Supreme Court — without noted dissent from any justice, including Trump’s three nominees — denied an effort by Trump allies to have Pennsylvania’s election results disqualified. That effort was filed by Republicans in the state who are loyal to the president.
The Texas effort targets Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia. A slew of individual lawsuits challenging the results in those states have been thrown out by state and federal judges. The Texas effort repackages some of those allegations about voting irregularities, mail-in ballots and recount procedures into something of an omnibus complaint. The Supreme Court has asked the targeted states to respond by Thursday, and the court’s decision about whether the case may continue could come by the end of the week. One of the requests from Texas is to delay the electoral college’s Dec. 14 meeting.
States have constitutional authority to set the rules of an election, and it is almost unheard of for another state to challenge them. But those states supporting Texas said they are protecting their own voters.
“States have a strong interest in ensuring that the votes of their own citizens are not diluted by the unconstitutional administration of elections in other states,” said the brief, spearheaded by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R).
Joining Missouri were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.
Trump filed his own motion to intervene and said the Supreme Court should take up the Texas complaint to ease Americans’ distrust about the true winner of the election.
The logic is somewhat circular, because the distrust is caused by Trump’s refusal to concede the election and insistence that he won instead of Biden.
“The fact that nearly half of the country believes the election was stolen should come as no surprise. President Trump prevailed on nearly every historical indicia of success in presidential elections,” said the filing by John C. Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University. After listing some highlights of Trump’s election night — winning the vote in Ohio and Florida, getting a greater total of votes than in his 2016 campaign — Eastman wrote: “These things just don’t normally happen, and a large percentage of the American people know that something is deeply amiss.”
The filing repeated many of the complaints about voting procedures that have been the subject of unsuccessful lawsuits filed around the country.
The filing doesn’t allege fraud, which it said was unnecessary. “It is only necessary to demonstrate that the elections in the defendant states materially deviated from the ‘manner’ of choosing electors established by their respective state legislatures. By failing to follow the rule of law, these officials put our nation’s belief in elected self-government at risk.”
Eastman noted: “Despite the chaos of election night and the days which followed, the media has consistently proclaimed that no widespread voter fraud has been proven. But this observation misses the point. The constitutional issue is not whether voters committed fraud but whether state officials violated the law by systematically loosening the measures for ballot integrity so that fraud becomes undetectable.”
Eastman has testified on Trump’s behalf in previous post-election settings and wrote an opinion piece in Newsweek that questioned whether Kamala D. Harris was qualified to be vice president.