Texas moves SCOTUS against 'unlawful election results' in 4 key states, legal experts call move 'utter garbage'
The Lone Star State GOP Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the states, giving President Trump one final ray of hope of turning the results, but it is unlikely to succeed
December 8 marked a key deadline for President Donald Trump who is desperately seeking an overturn of the November 3 presidential election that he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. It is the "safe harbor" date — a provision in the federal law that requires the states to settle all poll-related issues before the Electoral College (EC) meets to finalize the results. On December 14, the EC will cast votes in favor of the president and vice president.
For Trump, this is a key moment. Although he has been trying hard to get the results overturned in his favor and has not spared even top officials of his own Republican Party, no legal relief has gone to his favor. The party has found itself divided and even the president’s legal team found itself under increasing counter challenges.
However, the commander-in-chief and his staunch followers have found a new hope, which might also be their last as Texas GOP Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday, December 8, announced a lawsuit in the Supreme Court to scrap the election results in four key states that helped Biden beat Trump.
The lawsuit, an unusual one, was filed directly to the Supreme Court and it asserted that “unlawful election results” in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — all of which went to Biden — should be called unconstitutional. Trump won Texas but his victory margin was less (below six percentage points) than that of earlier GOP wins. He, in fact, survived a scare to eventually beat Biden in the Lone Star State, which has gone to the GOP in all presidential polls since 1976.
“Any electoral college votes cast by such presidential electors appointed” in those states “cannot be counted,” the state of Texas told the court. According to the filing, these states used the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to unlawfully change their election rules “through executive fiat or friendly lawsuits, thereby weakening ballot integrity”.
Trump sympathizers were elated with the move and the president himself responded to a tweet saying “God Bless Texas” with the words “FOR COURAGE & BRILLIANCE!”.
FOR COURAGE & BRILLIANCE! https://t.co/mPM5ejy2lU— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2020
Texas’ attempt to invalidate other states’ electoral votes follows a number of long-shot legal challenges that have been brought in lower courts by the president’s campaign and other attorneys to turn the results to his favor. However, none of them succeeded in invalidating the ballots cast in favor of the former vice president. According to a report in New York Post,Texas Senator Ted Cruz has offered to make arguments in a similar Pennsylvania-specific case before the court.
Legal experts dismiss case
Legal experts believe Texas’ unprecedented move will meet no different fate. According to a report in Bloomberg, experts felt the southern state, which repeats allegations about mail-in voting that have already been nullified in several courts across the nation, has little chance of being heard in the SCOTUS. Moreover, with the key "safe harbor" deadline almost reached, Trump’s chances of putting pressure on state legislatures to override the voters have become even slimmer.
CNBC News spoke with Paul Smith, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center who has argued voting rights cases at the SCOTUS, and he called the case “wacko”. “There is a whole system in Pennsylvania and the other states for contesting the election — that’s all been done,” Smith, who has served in a prominent post at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, was quoted as saying.
“I don’t think the Supreme Court will have interest in this.” He also cautioned that Texas itself could invite trouble for itself by this move. “It’s totally unprecedented, the idea that one state would, at the Supreme Court, claim that other states’ votes were cast in the wrong way — that’s never happened,” he said. “What is the injury to the state of Texas because Pennsylvania’s votes were cast for Mr Biden instead of Mr Trump? There is no connection there.”
Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, slammed the lawsuit in his popular legal blog, calling it “utter garbage”. Harvard University law professor and frequent Trump critic Laurence Tribe told Bloomberg: “It’s worse than nonsensical. It’s outrageous, outlandish, and outside any imaginable constitutional box.”
For Paxton, the mission will be more than challenging. He will need the consent of five justices to even let him file the suit. It may be mentioned here that the 57-year-old Paxton himself is under an FBI probe. Last month, the Associated Press cited two informed sources to report that the investigative agency is looking into charges that Paxton breached the law in using his office to help a wealthy donor.
“Federal agents are looking into claims by former members of Paxton’s staff that the high-profile Republican committed bribery, abuse of office and other crimes to help Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, the people told The Associated Press,” the report said.
What sued states are saying
Georgia’s Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs called Texas’s lawsuit “false and irresponsible” in a statement that was issued soon after Paxton announced the legal step. “Texas alleges that there are 80,000 forged signatures on absentee ballots in Georgia, but they don’t bring forward a single person who this happened to. That’s because it didn’t happen,” the statement read.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also lashed out at the lawsuit and called it a “publicity stunt” and “beneath the dignity” of Paxton’s office. In a statement, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said the case was “genuinely embarrassing.”