The PA Supreme Court Circumvented State Election Law

November 12, 2020 Updated: November 17, 2020

Commentary

One of the most prominent lawsuits regarding the 2020 election is still unfolding in my home state, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

On Sept. 17, the PA State Supreme Court took unilateral action to extend the deadline for mail-in ballots in the state. This action was taken without approval or buy-in from the state legislature. I’m not a constitutional expert, but the law is very clear that it’s the state legislature’s legal responsibility to set the election laws in their state, not the state’s supreme court.

Oklahoma’s Attorney General Mike Hunter recently said, “The actions of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court are one of the most breathtaking abuses of judicial authority that I’ve seen in my four-plus years as attorney general.”

He’s absolutely correct. The unilateral actions taken by the PA Supreme Court are tantamount to treason, in my opinion.

While this is one of the most prominent lawsuits in the nation, the mainstream media is not reporting on it or giving any airtime to the individuals who are seeking to bring this to light. Why not?

The Trump campaign is pushing back against this, as is a group of state attorneys general.

Republican attorneys general from 10 states have joined together to file an amicus curiae brief (pdf) in support of two lawsuits asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review Pennsylvania’s three-day extension to receive mail-in ballots. The attorneys general represent the following states: Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, and South Dakota.

The brief starts with, “The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision overstepped its constitutional responsibility, encroached on the authority of the Pennsylvania legislature, and violated the plain language of the Election Clauses.”

The brief makes three main arguments:

  1. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped its authority and encroached on the authority of the legislature in ruling that ballots received three days after election can be accepted, including ballots with an illegible postmark or no postmark at all.
  2. Voting by mail can create risks of voter fraud, including in Pennsylvania.
  3. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision exacerbated these risks of absentee ballot fraud.

Furthermore, the Republican attorneys general’s amicus brief argues the three-day ballot acceptance extension violates the U.S. Constitution’s elections clause, which states, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.”

The attorneys general said at a press conference announcing the amicus brief that the Pennsylvania legislature—and not the Pennsylvania Supreme Court—is the only body with the power to change election ballot rules.

On Friday, Nov. 6, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued an order directing Pennsylvania officials to segregate any mail-in ballots that arrived after 8 p.m. on Election Day. While I appreciate this effort by Justice Alito, I think it didn’t go far enough.

It’s the responsibility of the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the will of the American people when and/if a state’s Supreme Court takes unilateral action without the state legislature’s approval.

I’m calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to take up this case immediately. They should look at the facts and, in my opinion, render a decision that this action by the PA Supreme Court was unconstitutional. All votes received in this three-day extension should be nullified immediately.

Justice should be served. Shame on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices who voted yes on this. We will not forget their blatant efforts to impact the outcome of an election.

Bryan E. Leib is a Jewish Voices for Trump coalition member and a former 2018 U.S. congressional candidate for Philadelphia, Penn. He tweets at @Bryan_E_Leib

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.