The US Supreme Court on Friday delivered a devastating blow to President Donald Trump by rejecting a lawsuit filed by his Republican allies seeking to overturn election outcomes in the four battleground states that swung the White House race in favour of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.
The court dismissed the lawsuit filed by Texas attorney general Ken Paxton and joined by Republican counterparts from 18 other states, 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives and the president himself in his capacity as a candidate for re-election. The case was not even allowed to be filed, let alone be admitted and argued. It was rejected outright.
“The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing,” the apex court said in a curt one-page order.
“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”
The unsigned order noted that two of the nine justices — Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, both conservatives — had differed. They said “we do not have discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction … (we) would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue.”
They had differed only on a procedural point, that they would have allowed the lawsuit to be filed as it fell within the “original jurisdiction” of the court to hear disputes between states outside the appellate process.
The remaining six justices, including the three conservatives appointed by Trump — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — concurred with the dismissal, as did Chief Justice John Roberts, also a conservative, and the three liberals Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
The Texas lawsuit had asked the Supreme Court to overturn election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — the key states that gave Biden the presidency — arguing that election rules that were changed there in view of the Covid-19 epidemic, essentially to make voting more convenient, were unconstitutional.
In a blistering response, these states had argued among other thing that Texas had no standing — ground to sue — to challenge elections in other states because one it was not harmed or injured and, two, elections are conducted independently by states (unlike in India where elections are held by the Central Election Commission, a federal body).
This was the second time this week that the apex court had spurned an attempt to overturn the election mounted by Republican allies of the president at his behest.
Trump had pinned his hopes on this case to win back the presidency that he lost decisively to Biden, by 232-306 electoral college votes and more than 7 million popular votes. And he tweeted it up in anticipation. “If the Supreme Court shows great Wisdom and Courage, the American People will win perhaps the most important case in history, and our Electoral Process will be respected again,” he posted shortly before the order.
Trump’s baseless claims and lawsuits alleging election fraud, echoed by his Republican allies, have been rejected by multiple courts — more than 50, by one count — but he has pressed on unperturbed. He has also tried to persuade Republican-led state legislatures to reject the poll outcome.
All 50 states and the District of Colombia certified the election results on Tuesday, as required. And electors of the Electoral College will vote on Monday to declare Biden the victor. Trump’s Republican supporters in the House of Representatives will try and use the next stage in the process — the lower chamber’s endorsement of the electors’ vote — to change the outcome.