The Supreme Court of the United States on Friday rejected a bid launched by Texas and backed by President Donald Trump that sought to undo Joe Biden’s election wins in the key swing states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The ruling dealt a death blow to Trump’s desperate and unsuccessful efforts to reverse Biden’s projected Electoral College victory. It came three days before electors are set to cast their ballots in their respective states, finalizing Biden’s win.
Election law experts from the outset said that the suit was unlikely to succeed. But Trump, who himself even filed a motion to intervene in the case, had hyped up Paxton’s lawsuit as “the big one.”
The court Friday rejected Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attempt to file the lawsuit against the four battleground states. The justices said that Paxton did not have the grounds to sue the other states over changes they made to their voting procedures in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution,” the court said.
“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.”
Trump, who has appointed three justices to the nine-member court, had said before the Nov. 3 election that he believed the Supreme Court would ultimately decide the race.
“I think it’s very important that we have nine justices” for that reason, Trump had said shortly after the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September.
Biden spokesman Mike Gwin in a statement Friday evening said the court “decisively and speedily rejected the latest of Donald Trump and his allies’ attacks on the democratic process.”
“This is no surprise — dozens of judges, election officials from both parties, and Trump’s own Attorney General have dismissed his baseless attempts to deny that he lost the election,” Gwin said. “President-elect Biden’s clear and commanding victory will be ratified by the Electoral College on Monday, and he will be sworn in on January 20th.”
Texas’ suit made the unprecedented request for the Supreme Court to invalidate the election results of the four battleground states by declaring that their Electoral College votes “cannot be counted.”
Biden’s wins in the four states, which together held 62 electoral votes, had put him over the threshold of 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency. Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes, compared with 232 for Trump.
If Texas had won the suit, it would have nullified Biden’s victory.
Two of the high court’s most conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, in a brief dissent said that they would have allowed Paxton’s lawsuit to be filed, but added that they would “not grant other relief” sought in the case.
“In my view, we do not have discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction,” Alito wrote in a statement that Thomas backed. “I 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.”
More than a dozen states where Trump won the popular vote filed briefs in support of Texas’ action. More than 120 Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., filed similar “friend of the court” briefs soon after.
But about two dozens states and territories that Biden won filed their own briefs in opposition to Texas’ complaint.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in a scathing Dear Colleague letter Friday afternoon accused Republicans supporting the case of engaging in “election subversion that imperils our democracy.”
“This lawsuit is an act of flailing GOP Desperation, which violates the principles enshrined in our American Democracy,” Pelosi wrote.
“As Members of Congress, we take a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution,” her letter said. “Republicans are subverting the Constitution by their reckless and fruitless assault on our democracy which threatens to seriously erode public trust in our most sacred democratic institutions, and to set back our progress on the urgent challenges ahead.”
Rudy Giuliani, the lawyer who has been leading Trump’s effort to undo Biden’s win through court actions, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who has clashed with Trump, said in a statement that the Supreme Court has finally “closed the book on the nonsense.”
“Since Election Night, a lot of people have been confusing voters by spinning Kenyan Birther-type, ‘Chavez rigged the election from the grave’ conspiracy theories, but every American who cares about the rule of law should take comfort that the Supreme Court — including all three of President Trump’s picks — closed the book on the nonsense,” he said.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who had represented her state against Paxton’s suit, said the ruling “is an important reminder that we are a nation of laws, and though some may bend to the desire of a single individual, the courts will not.”
NBC News legal analyst Benjamin Wittes noted that while Alito and Thomas dissent in the decision, they likely would have rejected on the merits.