GOP to Take Pennsylvania Court’s Revision of Election Laws to Supreme Court

GOP to Take Pennsylvania Court’s Revision of Election Laws to Supreme Court
The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Matthew Vadum

Republicans intend to ask the short-handed U.S. Supreme Court to review a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that extended the deadline for receiving and counting mailed ballots in the Keystone State, a decision they claim violates the law and endangers electoral integrity.

Pennsylvania is among the most hotly contested battleground states in the Nov. 3 presidential election. President Donald Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania in 2016 by 44,292 votes out of more than 6 million cast. The Republican candidate secured 48.2 percent of the popular vote in the state, beating Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won 47.5 percent, according to Ballotpedia.

Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes out of the 270 needed to be elected president.

On Sept. 24, the Pennsylvania high court, which has a 5–2 Democratic majority, refused without comment a request to put its controversial ruling on hold while Republicans prepare to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

Republicans argued the ruling could lead to electoral chaos in the state.

“The court’s judgment ... creates a serious likelihood that Pennsylvania’s imminent general election will be tainted by votes that were illegally cast or mailed after Election Day,” Republicans stated in court documents.

The Republican Party of Pennsylvania stated in documents that it “respectfully asks the court for a partial stay of its judgment, pending disposition of [our] forthcoming stay application and petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Adding to potential problems, many ballots may not be counted for days after Election Day, possibly leaving the outcome of the presidential election undetermined.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told the Morning Call newspaper in Allentown last week that she expects most ballots will be counted by the weekend after Election Day, but a large volume of mailed-in ballots could prevent the state from reporting results on Nov. 3.

“Are we going to have results by midnight on election night if we have 3 million mailed ballots submitted?" Boockvar said. “No, we’re not.”

The denial of the stay came as two senior Republicans, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and U.S. Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, warned in a report that widespread problems with mail-in voting coupled with Democrats’ efforts “to change state election laws and procedures at the last minute” for partisan advantage could be setting the stage for “an unprecedented constitutional crisis” in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The anticipated petition for certiorari, or review, to the Supreme Court comes after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of cancer on Sept. 18 at 87, which added uncertainty to the 2020 presidential contest that some expect to be the most intensely litigated election in the nation’s history.

Trump unveiled his new Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, at the White House on Sept. 26. Republicans vow to have Barrett confirmed by the U.S. Senate before Election Day.

With Ginsburg’s death, the Supreme Court now has a 5–3 conservative majority.

“This could be a big first test for the post-RBG Supreme Court and where it will stand on election issues,” Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California–Irvine who writes about election law, told The Hill newspaper. “There’s little reason to believe that the conservative-liberal divide will disappear with Justice Ginsburg’s death.”

But Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee aren't allowed to intervene in the state-level lawsuit brought by Democrats to change the rules for the elections, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Sept. 3, as The Epoch Times previously reported.

In Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Boockvar, the court granted permission to the Senate Republican Caucus and the Republican Party of Pennsylvania to intervene in the case, but denied other organizations standing to participate in the lawsuit as intervenors. The court turned down requests to intervene from the Trump campaign, the RNC, and from several activist groups including Common Cause of Pennsylvania, and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.

The Trump campaign and RNC Chairperson Ronna McDaniel didn't immediately respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment.