The state of Texas on Dec. 8 filed an election lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court against Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin, alleging that the states unconstitutionally changed election laws, treated voters unequally, and triggered significant voting irregularities by relaxing ballot-integrity measures.
“Trust in the integrity of our election processes is sacrosanct and binds our citizenry and the States in this Union together,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. “Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin destroyed that trust and compromised the security and integrity of the 2020 election.
“The states violated statutes enacted by their duly elected legislatures, thereby violating the Constitution. By ignoring both state and federal law, these states have not only tainted the integrity of their own citizens’ vote, but of Texas and every other state that held lawful elections. Their failure to abide by the rule of law casts a dark shadow of doubt over the outcome of the entire election. We now ask that the Supreme Court step in to correct this egregious error.”
Attorneys general from the defendant states disputed the claims in the lawsuit.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro wrote on Twitter, “They are a scheme by the President of the United States and some in the Republican party to disregard the will of the people—and name their own victors.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement, “The motion filed by the Texas Attorney General is a publicity stunt, not a serious legal pleading.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul wrote on Twitter, “Texas is as likely to change the outcome of the Ice Bowl as it is to overturn the will of Wisconsin voters in the 2020 presidential election.”
Katie Byrd, communications director for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, wrote in an email to The Epoch Times, “With all due respect, Texas Attorney General is constitutionally, legally and factually wrong about Georgia.”
The Texas lawsuit seeks a determination by the court that the four battleground states conducted the 2020 election in violation of the Constitution. Paxton is asking the Supreme Court to prohibit the counting of the Electoral College votes cast by the four states. For the defendant states that have already appointed electors, the lawsuit asks the court to direct the state legislatures to appoint new electors in line with the Constitution.
Beyond seeking a remedy to determine the outcome of the 2020 election, Texas is asking the Supreme Court to clarify the law for future contests.
“In addition to injunctive relief for this election, Plaintiff State seeks declaratory relief for all presidential elections in the future. This problem is clearly capable of repetition yet evading review,” the lawsuit states (pdf). “This Court’s attention is profoundly needed to declare what the law is and to restore public trust in this election.”
Paxton filed the challenge on the day of the so-called safe harbor deadline, six days before states are due to certify their electors. The attorney general is asking the Supreme Court to extend the certification deadline.
“To safeguard public legitimacy at this unprecedented moment and restore public trust in the presidential election, this Court should extend the December 14, 2020 deadline for Defendant States’ certification of presidential electors to allow these investigations to be completed,” the court filing states.
The Trump campaign’s legal team later on Dec. 8 addressed media reports focusing on the safe-harbor deadline and suggesting that the legal challenges to the election are over.
“Justice Ginsburg recognized in Bush v. Gore that the date of ‘ultimate significance’ is January 6, when Congress counts and certifies the votes of the Electoral College. The only fixed day in the U.S. Constitution is the inauguration of the President on January 20 at noon,” the legal team said in an emailed statement. “Despite the media trying desperately to proclaim that the fight is over, we will continue to champion election integrity until every legal vote is counted fairly and accurately.”
The Trump campaign and third-party groups have pending legal challenges in all the swing states, but to date, only a lawsuit brought by Pennsylvania Republicans has escalated to the nation’s highest court. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Tuesday evening denied a request for a temporary injunctive order in that case. A separate challenge of Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballot deadline extension was already before the Supreme Court prior to the election.
Paxton’s lawsuit cites the evidence from the state-level lawsuits to demonstrate the volume and pervasiveness of voting irregularities, alleged violations, and potential voter fraud.
The primary argument by the plaintiff centers on the enactment and execution of election laws, rules, and procedures in the four states that allegedly breached the Constitution’s divestment of the power to appoint electors to the state legislatures. The defendant states enacted such measures through the use of so-called friendly lawsuits, in which the plaintiff and the defendant collude to procure a court order. In other instances, a variety of state election officials promulgated rules and procedures that could only be enacted by each state’s legislature, as required by the Constitution’s Elections and Electors clause.
For example, the secretaries of state in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia “abrogated” state statutes requiring signature verification for absentee or mail-in ballots, the lawsuit states.
In Wisconsin, the state’s election commission “and other local officials unconstitutionally modified Wisconsin election laws—each time taking steps that weakened, or did away with, established security procedures” established “to ensure absentee ballot integrity.” The Wisconsin Election Commission, for example, undertook a campaign to set up ballot drop boxes throughout the states, including unmanned ones.
Texas argues that enough illegal votes are at stake to change the outcome of the election in each of the states. The allegedly illegal votes dilute the value of the legal votes cast. The plaintiff doesn’t set out to prove fraud, arguing instead that the defendant states have made it “impossible to distinguish a lawful ballot from an unlawful ballot.”
The lawsuit further argues that a victory for former Vice President Joe Biden in the four states is a massive statistical improbability, considering President Donald Trump’s lead in each state in the early hours on the morning after Election Day. Citing an affidavit that hasn’t yet been publicly disclosed, the plaintiffs claim that Biden’s chance of winning given Trump’s lead is “less than one in a quadrillion, or 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000.”
“For former Vice President Biden to win these four States collectively, the odds of that event happening decrease to less than one in a quadrillion to the fourth power,” the lawsuit states. “Put simply, there is substantial reason to doubt the voting results in the Defendant States.”
Straight to Supreme Court
The plaintiff argues that the Supreme Court is the only venue to resolve the multi-state dispute.
“This action against multiple State defendants is the only adequate remedy for Plaintiff States, and this Court is the only court that can accommodate such a suit.” the lawsuit states, notably using a plural for plaintiff states, an indication that other Republican attorneys general may soon join the suit or file similar actions.
Ten Republican attorneys general filed a multi-state amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 9 in the challenge of Pennsylvania’s deadline extension for mail-in ballots.
A number of Republican attorney general offices didn’t respond when asked if they’re planning to join the lawsuit. The Office of the Attorney General in South Dakota told The Epoch Times that it’s “aware of the filing” but hasn’t yet received the case.
“Once received, our Appellate division will be reviewing the case and discussions will be had between the AG and the appellate division regarding what direction the state will take,” a spokesperson for the office said in an email.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.