The Supreme Court decided on Friday not to hear a case filed by the state of Texas and joined by the Trump campaign that sought to have the results of the presidential election in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin declared unconstitutional and effectively hand President Donald Trump a second term.
The Supreme Court decided on Friday not to hear a case filed by the state of Texas and joined by the Trump campaign that sought to have the results of the presidential elections in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin declared unconstitutional, and effectively hand President Donald Trump a second term.
In an order released Friday night, the court decided 7-2 not to hear the case because the state of Texas “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”
Though there remains active litigation in courts wherein the Trump campaign and its allies are seeking to decertify results in many of the same battleground states, the Supreme Court’s refusal to even hear the Texas case represents a comprehensive rebuke of theories of widespread voter fraud or illegal changes to state election law that cost Trump the election.
Trump had high hopes for the case, calling it the one “everyone has been waiting for” and the “big one” that would deliver him a second term in the White House.
Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision to not hear the case, arguing that “we do not have discretion” to turn down suits filed between two or more states, which fall within the Supreme Courts “original jurisdiction.”
“I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint, but would not grant other relief,” Alito wrote in the dissent. University of Texas School law professor Steve Vladeck said on Twitter that this is the most important point of their dissent.
“For anyone wondering about Justices Alito and Thomas, they’ve been consistent about this technical objection across cases — thatthe Supreme Court has to at least grant leave to file in state-state disputes,” Vladeck wrote. “The much bigger story is their emphasis that they’d grant ‘no other relief.’ ”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had argued that the battleground states had violated their own election laws and the Constitution when state election officials and courts ordered modifications to election protocol, in order to protect voters from the COVID-19 epidemic. Though states across the country, including Texas, made similar changes this year, Paxton chose to sue four battleground states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden.
Legal experts long doubted that the Texas suit had any chance of success. Rick Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California, Irvine, called it possibly the “dumbest case I’ve ever seen filed on an emergency basis at the Supreme Court.”
He called it a “press release masquerading as a lawsuit” and argued that Texas does not have standing to sue, and even if it did it, would have had to raise objections to these election changes before the election, not after. He added that the remedy Texas seeks would “disenfranchise tens of millions of voters” and that there’s “no reason to believe the voting conducted in any of the states was done unconstitutionally.”
Nevertheless, more than a dozen other Republican state attorneys general filed amicus briefs in support of Texas position, and more than 125 Republican members of Congress also supported declaring those states’ elections unconstitutional. Several of those representatives hailed from the states in question — meaning that, in effect, these lawmakers were questioning the validity of the elections they themselves won.
Other elected Republicans, however, have publicly defended the integrity of November’s election. Republican Attorney General Christopher Carr of Georgia vigorously defended the results of his state’s election, administered by a Republican secretary of state, and the Republican attorney general of Ohio filed a brief stating that his state could not support Texas’s arguments. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, also questioned the validity of the suit, telling CNN: “I frankly struggle to understand the legal theory.”
“Georgia’s legislature enacted laws governing elections and election disputes, and the State and its officers have implemented and followed those laws,” Carr wrote in a response to the suit. “To ensure the accuracy of the results of that process, it has completed three total counts of the vote for its presidential electors, including a historic 100 percent manual recount — all in accordance with state law.”
The end of this suit, in which the president had publicly placed such elevated hopes, will not mean an end to election litigation, however.
For instance, Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward filed a suit with the Supreme Court earlier Friday challenging federal law that sets time limits on states’ determinations of the winners of presidential elections in their states. But experts say little will come from further legal action.
“People ask me when the litigation is going to stop,” Hasen of UC Irvine wrote Friday on Twitter. “I say perhaps not through the entire Biden presidency. But when will the serious litigation stop? It already has.”