Team Trump Tries SCOTUS Once More

Source: The White House

Because over four dozen losses are not enough for them to take the hint, team Trump is going to court yet again, this time with the aim of overturning the results of the election in Pennsylvania. As Reuters reports: Trump campaign will again ask U.S. high court to upend election results.

In a statement issued by the campaign, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the campaign had filed a petition asking the high court to reverse three rulings by a Pennsylvania state court interpreting the state’s rules for mail-in ballots.

“The Campaign’s petition seeks to reverse three decisions which eviscerated the Pennsylvania Legislature’s protections against mail ballot fraud,” Giuliani said in a statement.

Giuliani said the filing sought all “appropriate remedies,” including an order allowing Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature to award the state’s 20 electoral votes to Trump. Biden won the state by more than 80,000 votes.

All of this is about procedural matters that even if the Court were to find were improper are not going to lead to the overturning of the election. That level of relief far outstrips the alleged wrongs.

Beyond that, the constitution clearly states that state legislatures dictate the manner in which electors are chosen. And the manner chosen by law in PA is via popular vote. That is what happened here. The issues at hand, which include the process of verifying signatures and deadlines for processing ballots don’t change, one iota, the manner by which the EVs are allocated. In other words, the procedural changes being objected to did not change the manner in which the EVs were allocated but simply changed some of the processes used to process and count the ballots.

Here are the items being address as per the Trump campaign’s press release:

“The Campaign’s petition seeks to reverse three decisions which eviscerated the Pennsylvania Legislature’s protections against mail ballot fraud, including (a) prohibiting election officials checking whether signatures on mail ballots are genuine during canvassing on Election Day, (b) eliminating the right of campaigns to challenge mail ballots during canvassing for forged signatures and other irregularities, (c) holding that the rights of campaigns to observe the canvassing of mail ballots only meant that they only were allowed to be ‘in the room’ – in this case, the Philadelphia Convention Center – the size of several football fields, and (d) eliminating the statutory requirements that voters properly sign, address, and date mail ballots.

The petition for cert filed with the court uses the word “fraud” or “fraudulent” 67 times, but only to describe the idea that certain rules and processes are designed to stop fraud and then asserting that the items listed above may have lead to fraud. There are no accusations, as best as I can tell of actual fraud in the brief.

The argument appears to be: the procedural choices made in PA might have lead to fraudulent voting, so therefore on this possibility, all the votes in the state should be tossed and the PA legislature should be allowed to select the electors from PA (this would require tossing the EVs already cast, of course).

And, it should be noted, things like changed deadlines don’t alter the content of a vote. So tossing out votes cast in good faith due to a disagreement over procedural choices is profoundly anti-democratic.

The AP write-up describes the case as follows:

The new case is at least the fourth involving Pennsylvania that Trump’s campaign or Republican allies have taken to the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn Biden’s victory in the state or at least reverse court decisions involving mail-in balloting. Many more cases were filed in state and federal courts. Roughly 10,000 mail-in ballots that arrived after polls closed but before a state court-ordered deadline remain in limbo, awaiting the highest court’s decision on whether they should be counted.

The Trump campaign’s filing Sunday appears to target three decisions of Pennsylvania’s Democratic-majority state Supreme Court.

In November, the state’s highest court upheld a Philadelphia judge’s ruling that state law only required election officials to allow partisan observers to be able to see mail-in ballots being processed, not stand close enough to election workers to see the writing on individual envelopes.

It also ruled that more than 8,300 mail-in ballots in Philadelphia that had been challenged by the Trump campaign because of minor technical errors — such as a voter’s failure to write their name, address or date on the outer ballot envelope — should be counted. In October, the court ruled unanimously that counties are prohibited from rejecting mail-in ballots simply because a voter’s signature does not resemble the signature on the person’s voter registration form.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party has a pending petition on the state’s mail-in-ballot deadline in which the party specifically says in its appeal that it recognizes the issue will not affect the outcome of the 2020 election.

For the most part, there appears to be very little coverage of this latest attempt at democratic subversion. I can find mostly just newswire type write-ups and no actual analysis. On the one hand, I get that we are all tired of this. On the other, I can’t help but think Trump’s ongoing efforts to disenfranchise voters ought to get more attention.

Update: While not about this case specifically, Jonathan Manes writing at Just Security provides an excellent description of what Trump’s lawyers have been seeking, and are very much seeking in this latest filing:

After the election, the Trump forces asked the courts to cancel ballots from eligible voters that were already cast and counted. They were asking the courts to discard ballots not because they were fraudulent or because there was any doubt that they reflected the will of an eligible voter, but based on technicalities or disputed interpretations of state laws. More bluntly, people’s votes would be trashed to pay for the supposed sins of state courts and election officials who exercised their authority to make voting easier or more certain.

Again: seeking to toss ballots cast in good faith on the proviso that bureaucratic choices were to make voting a little easier is straight-up a rejection of democracy.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, Democracy, Supreme Court, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. CSK says:

    Yes, it ought to get more attention. But I think most people, excepting the hard core of Trump supporters you find at sites such as Gateway Pundit and, regard these actions as mere theatre designed to placate the 22% of American who believe Trump is the greatest president ever, and, most importantly, keep them in the Trump fold.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    I have every confidence the Supremes will give this all the consideration it deserves and toss it quickly and quietly, given that 20 EC votes isn’t nearly enough to overturn the election.

  3. Kathy says:

    I think the Supremes rarely intervene in the rulings of state courts in matters of state law, absent clear constitutional questions. As the PA court’s decisions did not disenfranchise anyone nor prevented any ballots from being counted, I don’t see what argument could interest the SCOTUS.

    If One-Term Loser Trump wanted to be presidente for life, he should have at least issued an executive order about it.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s pretty simple: Votes cast by not true Americans were counted, and these votes need to be discarded. How do we know which ones were cast by not true Americans??? Easy…

    Yeah, you can do the math.

  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try…

    We’re back in elementary school.

  6. Scott F. says:

    @gVOR08: I would prefer the Supremes toss this latest case quickly and loudly. We need a ruling so unequivocal that even Giuliani wouldn’t dare come back to SCOTUS ever.

  7. Kylopod says:

    Anyone remember the comic strip Kudzu? It wasn’t a political strip per se, but it occasionally had lines that I felt hinted at a rightward orientation. It often made fun of liberals of Democrats. (Someone last night told me the creator started as a Democrat then moved to the right in the late ’90s, becoming a rabid Clinton hater.) Sometime in the early 2000s, there was a strip (I’m sure I’m getting the details wrong, it was so long ago and I haven’t been able to track it down), where one character asks where someone is, and the other says the person is down in Florida still doing recounts or lawsuits (or something) to make Al Gore president.

    It’s funny to think how much Trump is living up to that cartoon.

  8. An Interested Party says:

    Again: seeking to toss ballots cast in good faith on the proviso that bureaucratic choices were to make voting a little easier is straight-up a rejection of democracy.

    Sadly, Trump and his henchmen aren’t the only ones guilty of this…for years now, Republicans have been doing what they can to make it harder for people to vote…with every intrusive law they pass related to this subject, they show how they too reject democracy…of course, as we are constantly told by this crowd, we are a republic, not a democracy…

  9. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I read it more as “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

  10. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: i was such a comics geek that for my 12th birthday my parents bought me Bloom County Babylon. In middle school it made me depressed that of 20 comics in the local paper, 2 or 3 were good and the other 17 were garbage like Family Circus, Marmaduke, beetle bailey, gil thorp, mary worth, hi and lois, the lockharts, cathy, okay okay I know.

    Doug Marlette did kudzu and it was terrible. He also did editorial cartoons with brilliant messages like “John Kerry is Dumb.” And he did some “muslims are terrorists” stuff too. Just garbage.

  11. Teve says:

    There are really only three grades of comics:

    Great: Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side

    Good Occasionally: Non Sequitur, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine

    Fuckin Awful: Family Circus, Marmaduke, Beetle Bailey, Gil Thorp, Garfield, Mary Worth, Hi and Lois, the Lockharts, Cathy, Blondie, Andy Capp, Dick Tracy, Prince Valiant…

  12. An Interested Party says:

    @Teve: What about Peanuts…

  13. Teve says:

    @An Interested Party: so, Peanuts is a bit complicated. If you were around in the 50s and 60s, it was game-changing. A black friend in 1968??? Southern newspapers threatened to cancel the strip if Franklin was shown in the same school as Charlie Brown. But by the time I started reading comics in the 80s, the game had been changed. So I couldn’t appreciate Peanuts. Sort of like kids nowadays may watch Blade Runner and find it boring and derivative, because they’ve already seen 100 movies that were directly influenced by Blade Runner.

  14. Kathy says:


    I last received a daily paper with a comic strip sometime in the early 2000s. What I found is that they took little time to read, and sometimes even the awful ones came up with a really good cartoon.

    About peanuts, I read literally thousands of strips, as my older brother had lots of Peanuts books. Some were really good. There was a thread over several strips once, where Snoopy is taking his time to read “War and Peace.” He reads one word every day.

    When Woodstock wants to read along, Snoopy opens the book and reads “and,” then closes the book. They get into an argument, Snoopy claiming he¡’s at the sixth word already and won’t go back and read the whole book over again.

    I liked the social dynamics between the children: Lucy and Charlie Brown, Sally and Linus, Schroeder and Lucy, Peppermint Patty and Marcie. IMO one of the best Simpsons Halloween segments was one where they did it Peanuts style (though the grownups appear and speak intelligibly), with Lisa as Sally, Milhouse as Linus, and Bart as Charlie Brown, plus The Great Pumpkin playing himself.

  15. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: I confess that just about every time I’ve seen a Peanuts strip, it has seemed painfully unfunny to me. It’s weird given its cultural ubiquity and all the references everyone makes to it–haven’t we all talked about Lucy and the football?

  16. reid says:

    @Teve: Maybe it’s the anti-kudzu, but I’d put Doonesbury in the “great” category, too. Reading it and Mad magazine in the mid-’70s probably shaped me more than anything.

  17. JDM says:

    @Teve: I can’t believe Doonesbury isn’t on your list. Timely, controversial, banned….

  18. Jay L Gischer says:

    I can appreciate your interest and desire for more attention for this stuff, which is terrible.

    And I can’t help but wonder whether the attention is the point of it all. The more outrageous it is, the more people have to cover it, so Trump gets his name in the paper.

  19. Teve says:

    @reid: @JDM: the lists were examples. Not meant to be exhaustive.

    “Including, but not limited to,…”

  20. Kathy says:

    It seems fitting that a thread on Trumpy legal shenanigans quickly wound up discussing comic strips.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: If only I could give that observation a thousand thumbs up…

  22. PJ says:


    Great: Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side

    We are approaching the 25 year anniversary of the last published Calvin and Hobbes strip, it was published December 31, 1995.

  23. mattbernius says:

    Again, I would love to hear any supporter of the president and these disruptive actions explain why NONE of the campaigns legal team members or those from supporting teams, have ever attempted to introduce any of the “hard evidence of voter fraud and other malfeasance” that they claim to have in an actual court case.

    For extra points, I’d love your thoughts on all of the Trump-supporting new stations having to air detailed statements admitting that everything they have claimed about the voting machine companies was, in fact, wrong. See for example:

    BTW, has anyone checked to see if JKB is still alive? Because he’s been really silent as of late (especially after posting a lot of vague Dominion conspiracy theories mumbles in the immediate aftermath of the election).

  24. Kathy says:


    I think you just did.

  25. Michael Cain says:

    Late to the party… I’ve always put Frazz somewhere between very good and great.

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @mattbernius: It’s the we’re-bringing-out-the-legal-guns from all the voting machine companies, especially if they have evidence of damage. The media companies are suddenly going: “uh-oh….pandering to the Trumpites might in fact cost us some money, even if it’s nothing more than the cost of defending ourselves in court. Let’s do the bare minimum to get ourselves off the hook.”

    Giuliani and Sydney are batsh*t crazy enough that they’re liable to double down. Whoopsie.

    Oh, and since (most) libel and slander laws aren’t federal Trump can’t pardon them for this.

    Drag out the popcorn!

  27. wr says:

    @Teve: “Great: Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side”

    Just to add a little historical context — and I know that these are meant as examples, not an exhaustive list — I’d say there has never been a comic strip as great as Pogo. Characterization, drawing, jokes, political content, all top notch. Going back a couple of decades further I’d have to add Krazy Kat and Barnaby, the latter by Crockett Johnson who also wrote and drew one of my favorite childhood books, Harold and the Purple Crayon.

  28. @mattbernius:

    I’d love your thoughts on all of the Trump-supporting new stations having to air detailed statements admitting that everything they have claimed about the voting machine companies was, in fact, wrong.

    I am just now catching up on this story and may post something later (we spent the last several days in the north Georgia mountains stomping around trails in TN and NC and have only been half paying attention to the news).

    BTW, has anyone checked to see if JKB is still alive?

    He popped up in another threat spouting Covid-related nonsense sometime over the last several days. I don’t recall which post (maybe one of the open fora).

  29. JohnMcC says:

    @Teve: Pogo.

  30. grumpy realist says:

    @wr: Walt Kelly was a genius. I need to rustle up my copy of “Ten Ever-lovin’ Blue Eyed Years with Pogo”. Given what Kelly was able to do with Simple J. Malarkey, I’d love to have seen what he would have made of President Trump…..