With just over a week before Inauguration Day, the Supreme Court on Jan. 11 threw out a batch of requests by President Donald Trump’s campaign and Trump supporters for expedited consideration of legal challenges to election results in multiple states.
The actions came after Congress voted on Jan. 7 to reject objections by senators and representatives challenging Electoral College votes from disputed states won narrowly by the Democratic Party ticket of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Republican lawmakers’ support for the objections collapsed after multiple individuals bearing Trump campaign flags and paraphernalia ran amok in the U.S. Capitol building while lawmakers were attempting to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election, delaying the process several hours.
Although the lawsuits the high court acted on remain pending, the terms of office of the unsuccessful Republican Party ticket of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are scheduled to end at noon on Jan. 20, at which point Biden and Harris will be sworn in, replacing them. Trump has said he won’t attend the ceremony.
The Supreme Court, as is its custom, didn’t explain why it dismissed the emergency applications seeking to fast-track the lawsuits. There were no noted dissents from any of the nine justices.
The lawsuits, which concern the presidential elections held in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, are now in a state of legal purgatory waiting to be processed at the high court. They could be heard later this year after Biden and Harris have taken office.
Many of the lawsuits challenge the election results on the basis of allegedly unconstitutional changes made to state election procedures. Article II of the U.S. Constitution states, “Each State shall appoint [electors for president and vice president] in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” Litigants point out that the legislative power here is “plenary,” meaning unqualified and absolute. State officials, they say, aren’t allowed to modify election procedures without the consent of the legislature.
Trump campaign attorney John C. Eastman of Anaheim, California, told The Epoch Times in an email he still hopes the Supreme Court will take up the case known as Trump v. Boockvar. The petition for certiorari and motion to expedite were filed on Dec. 21, 2020.
“By failing to act on our motion to expedite for over three weeks, the motion to expedite had effectively been denied already,” Eastman said, adding the issue of whether the petition is moot remains to be decided.
“There is a well-recognized exception to mootness called ‘capable of repetition yet evading review.’ It is invoked quite frequently in election litigation, as oftentimes the issues are as applicable to the next election as to the current one. Our legal issue—whether non-legislative election and judicial officials in the state have the ability to ignore or alter state election law in the ‘manner’ of choosing presidential electors violates Article II of the U.S. Constitution, remains important and in need of the Court’s review.”
The petition states that the plenary power “and the statutory provisions enacted by the legislature in the furtherance of that constitutionally-assigned duty may not be ignored by state election officials or changed by state courts,” citing the Supreme Court’s landmark 2000 ruling in Bush v. Gore, sometimes called “Bush II.”
“Yet, during the 2020 presidential election, that is what the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did in four cases.”
The lawsuit brought by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) against Pennsylvania began on Dec. 3, 2020, as an emergency application aimed to prevent state officials “from taking any further action to perfect the certification of the results” of the election. The Supreme Court denied the emergency application on Dec. 8, 2020.
Then, in a petition filed on Dec. 11, 2020, Kelly asked the high court to invalidate Act 77, which Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, signed into law on Oct. 30, 2019.
“The no-excuse mail-in voting system implemented by Act 77 was substantively unconstitutional and violated 158 years of standing legal precedent,” Kelly argued.
Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia A. McCullough issued a ruling on Nov. 27, 2020, finding that the petitioners met, in Kelly’s words, “all six factors for injunctive relief.”
“Petitioners appear to have a viable claim that the mail-in ballot procedures set forth in Act 77 contravene Pa. Const. Article VII Section 14 as the plain language of that constitutional provision is at odds with the mail-in provisions of Act 77,” McCullough wrote.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania disagreed and reversed the judge’s ruling. The Supreme Court of the United States refused Jan. 11 to expedite the appeal.
The Trump’s campaign petition, filed Dec. 29, 2020, challenging results in Wisconsin raised the Article II argument.
Trump supporter and attorney L. Lin Wood’s lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger argues in his petition filed Dec. 8, 2020, that the Republican secretary of state “usurped” the plenary authority of the Georgia Legislature “by entering into a Settlement Agreement with the Democratic Party earlier this year and issuing an Official Election Bulletin that modified the Legislature’s clear procedures for verifying the identity of mail-in voters.”
The March 2020 settlement with the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee violated voters’ rights by setting forth “totally different standards to be followed [by] a poll worker processing absentee ballots in Georgia.”
A Georgia election-related petition filed by attorney Sidney Powell in a case known as In Re Coreco J. Pearson also named Raffensperger as a respondent.
Another petition filed by Powell in King v. Whitmer states that there were “widespread voter irregularities and fraud in the State of Michigan in the processing and tabulating of votes and absentee ballots,” and that the trial court “completely and utterly ignored the dozens of affidavits, testimonials, expert opinions, diagrams and photos that supported the petitioners’ claim.”
A petition and motion to expedite brought Dec. 11, 2020, by Kelli Ward, head of the Arizona Republican Party, asked the Supreme Court “to declare unconstitutional the dates/deadlines of December 8th, 2020, and December 14th, 2020, as applied to state-court litigation over presidential electors” in Arizona.