Team Trump Tries SCOTUS Once More
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.