President Donald Trump said Dec. 9 that he and members of his legal team would join, as intervenors, the lawsuit brought by Texas’s Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton to the U.S. Supreme Court against four battleground states.
“We will be INTERVENING in the Texas (plus many other states) case. This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!” Trump wrote in a tweet.
An intervention, in legal terms, is a procedure that lets a nonparty join ongoing litigation if the case affects the rights of that party. The court considering an application to intervene, in this case the U.S. Supreme Court, has the discretion to allow or deny such a request.
In the lawsuit, Texas is alleging that Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin introduced last-minute unconstitutional changes to election laws, treated voters unequally, and triggered significant voting irregularities by relaxing ballot-integrity measures. The lawsuit is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare that the four battleground states conducted the 2020 election in violation of the Constitution.
The suit, filed on Dec. 7 and docketed the next day, also seeks to prohibit the count of the Electoral College votes cast by the four states. For the defendant states that have already appointed electors, it asks the court to direct the state legislatures to appoint new electors in line with the Constitution.
Trump’s remarks about joining the suit as an intervenor came after several states expressed their support for the lawsuit. Attorneys general for Arkansas, Alabama, Missouri, and Louisiana have issued statements in support of Paxton’s motion.
On Dec. 8, the president wondered whether lawmakers or judges have the courage to help him challenge election results in key battleground states.
“Let’s see whether or not somebody has the courage—whether it’s a legislator or legislatures, or whether it’s a justice of the Supreme Court or a number of justices of the Supreme Court. Let’s see if they have the courage to do what everybody in this country knows is right,” Trump told a press conference in Washington during a summit on COVID-19 vaccines.
In the complaint to the Supreme Court, Paxton argues that the four battleground states had acted in a way that violated their own election laws and thereby breached the Constitution through enacting and implementing new measures, rules, and procedures right before the Nov. 3 election.
In some instances, 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, the lawsuit alleges. In other instances, a variety of state election officials allegedly exceeded their authority to promulgate rules and procedures that should have been enacted by each state’s legislature, as required by the Constitution’s Elections and Electors clause.
“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,” Paxton said in a statement.
Attorneys general from the defendant states have disputed the allegations in the lawsuit.
Paxton argued that the actions he outlined in his complaint “constitute non-legislative changes to State election law by executive-branch State election officials, or by judicial officials” and, as such, votes cast by Electoral College electors pursuant to these actions shouldn’t be considered constitutionally valid.
Texas is also asking the Supreme Court (pdf) to grant a preliminary injunction or a temporary restraining order to block the four states from taking action to certify their election results or to prevent the state’s presidential electors from taking any official action. The presidential electors are scheduled to meet on Dec. 14.
The court has ordered the defendant states to respond to Texas’s motions by 3 p.m. Dec. 10.
Janita Kan contributed to this report.