Trump Campaign Files Supreme Court Challenge to Pennsylvania Election Results

December 20, 2020 Updated: December 21, 2020

President Donald Trump’s campaign team filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse cases by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that changed mail-in ballot laws.

The campaign’s case (pdf) is attempting to reverse three cases decided by the state’s Supreme Court that “illegally changed” the mail-in ballot laws “immediately before and after the 2020 presidential election.” The lawyers contended that the Supreme Court’s decisions are in violation of Article II of the Constitution and the 2000 Bush v. Gore ruling.

The lawsuit is seeking “all appropriate remedies,” which includes the vacating of electors that were committed to Joe Biden and allowing the Pennsylvania Legislature to call up their own electors. When the Electoral College voted on Dec. 14, the Republican Party in Pennsylvania had its own electors cast votes for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, in a bid to preserve legal challenges in the state.

“The Campaign also moved for expedited consideration, asking the Supreme Court to order responses by December 23 and a reply by December 24 to allow the U.S. Supreme Court to rule before Congress meets on January 6 to consider the votes of the electoral college,” according to the Trump statement, authored by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“This represents the Campaign’s first independent U.S. Supreme Court filing and seeks relief based on the same Constitutional arguments successfully raised in Bush v. Gore.”

Furthermore, the lawsuit will attempt to reverse several decisions that “eviscerated the Pennsylvania Legislature’s protections against mail ballot fraud.”

The lawsuit says that these laws prohibited election officials from checking whether mail-in ballot signatures were genuine during Election Day canvassing, removed the right of certain campaigns to challenge the ballots when they were canvassed for forged signatures or other issues, prohibited campaign poll observers from getting close enough to the ballot-tabulation efforts in some areas like Philadelphia, and removing the statutory requirement stipulating that voters properly sign, address, and date mail ballots.

“Collectively, these three decisions resulted in counting approximately 2.6 million mail ballots in violation of the law as enacted by the Pennsylvania Legislature,” Trump’s lawyer John Eastman wrote (pdf), adding that “more than enough” ballots are involved to affect the election outcome.

Eastman asked that the Supreme Court require Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar to respond to the campaign’s filing by noon on Dec. 23. Boockvar’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court refused to hear a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton against Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin asserting that those states made unconstitutional changes to their election laws. In a 7–2 ruling not to hear the case, the court said that Texas lacked standing, a move that drew condemnation from Trump and other conservatives.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s top executives alleging that the state changed its mail-in ballot laws in an unconstitutional manner.  The Supreme Court previously rejected the group’s request for immediate injunctive relief to block Pennsylvania from taking further steps to certify the 2020 election results.

Kelly’s lawyers filed a petition for a writ of certiorari on Dec. 11, docketed by the court on Dec. 15, which argues that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was wrong when it dismissed their case because the justices thought the plaintiffs filed their case with unreasonable delay.

Janita Kan contributed to this report.