Pennsylvania Supreme Court Overturns Block on Certification of Election Results

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
November 28, 2020 Updated: November 29, 2020

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Saturday overturned a lower court’s order blocking election officials from certifying the results of the 2020 election. The court also dismissed the case with prejudice.

In an unsigned opinion, the state’s top court ruled to reverse Commonwealth Judge Patricia McCullough’s temporary injunction that would have prevented the state from taking further steps to complete the certification of the presidential race.

The court said the petitioners had failed to file their challenge in a “timely manner,” as they had filed their suit more than one year after the enactment of Act 77—the law central to the case.

The case at hand—cited as Kelly v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania—was filed by a group of Republican politicians who argue that Act 77, a law that made voting by mail without an excuse legal in Pennsylvania, violates the state’s constitution.

The lawsuit alleges that the state law is “another illegal attempt to override the limitations on absentee voting prescribed in the Pennsylvania Constitution, without first following the necessary procedure to amend the constitution to allow for the expansion.”

Earlier this week, McCullough granted an emergency request by the plaintiffs to temporarily block the certification after the Keystone state announced it was poised to finalize the process of formal certification for the presidential election results.

The Commonwealth judge explained in her opinion, issued on Friday, that the “petitioners appear to have established a likelihood to succeed on the merits because petitioners have asserted the Constitution does not provide a mechanism for the legislature to allow for expansion of absentee voting without a constitutional amendment.”

She also opined that the “petitioners appear to have a viable claim that the mail-in ballot procedures set forth in Act 77 contravene” the plain language of the provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which deals with absentee voting.

The state Supreme Court said on Saturday that the petitioners waited until days before the county of boards of election were required to certify the election results, which could “result in the disenfranchisement of millions of Pennsylvania voters” who voted by mail.

“It is beyond cavil that Petitioners failed to act with due diligence in presenting the instant claim,” the court wrote.

Chief Justice Thomas Saylor issued a separate opinion agreeing to reverse the preliminary injunction. However, Saylor said he believes the Republican petitioners should still be able to argue their case about the constitutional validity of Act 77.

“I find that the relevant substantive challenge raised by Appellees presents troublesome questions about the constitutional validity of the new mail-in voting scheme,” Saylor wrote.

Justice Sallie Mundy joined in that opinion.

The lawyers of the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.