The House of Representatives is asking a court to reject a petition from Republicans that requests judges to say Vice President Mike Pence has the authority to reject some electoral votes.
“This Court should reject plaintiffs’ effort to overturn Congress’s centuries-old role in counting electoral votes and resolving disputes about them in the constitutionally mandated Joint Session,” the House said in an amicus brief on Dec. 31.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and other Republicans this week sued Pence, asking a judge to authorize Pence to pick Republican electors over Democratic ones. They said the U.S. Constitution gives Pence the “exclusive authority” to decide which Electoral College votes to count, and that a portion of the Electoral Count Act of 1877 is unconstitutional.
The suit centers around the joint session of Congress that’s held every four years to count electoral votes. Electors meet in each state under the Electoral College system after presidential elections and cast ballots for the candidate that won the most votes in their respective states.
In seven states this election, competing electors also cast ballots for President Donald Trump.
The Democrat-controlled House in its new filing says the vice president during counting sessions, per the 1877 Act, “opens the electors’ certificates, but does not count the votes.”
The court should reject the claim because the plaintiffs lack standing, the suit is not timely, and the constitutional challenges “have no merit.”
“And the public interest and equities cut strongly against a first-of-its-kind injunction that would rewrite longstanding procedural rules for Congressional vote counting and create confusion just days before the required Joint Session,” it added.
In a statement accompanying the brief, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said: “The Gohmert lawsuit has zero legal merit and is yet another sabotage of our democracy. There is no doubt that, despite this desperate unpatriotic charade, on January 6, [Democrat presidential candidate] Joe Biden will be confirmed by the acceptance of the vote of the Electoral College as the 46th President of the United States.”
Pence, a House member before becoming Trump’s vice president, agreed with the House. He also asked U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle, a Trump appointee, to reject the suit.
“A suit to establish that the Vice President has discretion over the count, filed against the Vice President, is a walking legal contradiction,” an attorney representing Pence argued in a separate filing.
The lawsuit could have a major impact on the election, which remains contested just five days before the joint session. A constitutional expert told The Epoch Times this week that a less-covered aspect of the case, which seeks a court determination on how Congress should vote when Republicans object to slates of electors from six states where Trump has challenged the state-certified election results, could be a “big game-changer.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced Tuesday that he will challenge electoral votes during the congressional session. A quickly-rising number of representatives are also planning to file objections.
Theoretically, objections could lead to the nullification of some state’s electoral votes, but the likelihood of challenges being upheld is considered unlikely because that would require a majority vote in each chamber. Democrats control the House and GOP Senate leadership has repeatedly criticized plans to file the objections.
In the case neither candidate reaches 270 electoral votes during the session, a secondary system would be triggered, wherein the House decides the next president by voting by state. In that scenario, Republicans hold a slight edge.
Biden’s team said this week the electoral counting is “merely a formality” and said Biden is already the president-elect.