Judges overturn a lawsuit in Texas geared toward blocking election outcomes
Posted on Friday December 11th, 2020 at 7:50 pm by Amy Howe
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed Texas’s request to discard the 2020 presidential election results in four states – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – which gave President-elect Joe Biden important votes. In a brief order passed shortly before 6:30 p.m., the judges stated that Texas had no legal right to sue known as standing and had no legal interest in how other states conducted their elections. As a result, the court dismissed the Texas lawsuit without considering the merits of the state’s case. Almost all legal experts had given the lawsuit little chance of success from the moment it was filed on Monday.
The procedural style in which Texas came to the Supreme Court was extremely unusual for an electoral battle. Texas had asked the judges for permission to file its lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court, relying on the court’s original jurisdiction, most commonly used to resolve interstate disputes involving more secular and less time-sensitive issues such as water rights. Texas told judges that the 2020 elections “in the four states in question suffered from significant and unconstitutional irregularities” making it impossible to know who “rightly won the 2020 elections”.
In the five weeks since the November 3rd election, numerous lower courts have examined similar allegations and unanimously dismissed them as having no evidence or legal basis. Nonetheless, Texas urged the judges to postpone the official electoral college vote, scheduled for Monday, December 14, or to prevent the four states from casting votes on the electoral college for Biden, which was declared the referendum winner Status.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked judges to join the lawsuit. In an attempt to show that the election was “stolen”, Trump cited the fact that he had prevailed in both Florida and Ohio and claimed (incorrectly) that “no candidate in history has ever lost the election.” after winning both states “. Texas also received support from a variety of Friend of the Court letters ranging from Republican Congressmen to two non-existent states, New California and New Nevada.
Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin urged judges to stay out of the dispute in four separate pleadings, sometimes using harsh language not normally found on Supreme Court files. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro used the harshest rhetoric of the four, arguing that the court “should not endure this seditious abuse of legal process and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse should never be repeated”. The four states stressed that Texas has no legal right to challenge its election process in court. Furthermore, this is not the type of case that the Supreme Court should address directly, rather than allowing the challenge to go through the lower courts first.
Judge Samuel Alito filed a brief statement of the court ruling on the case, which Judge Clarence Thomas joined. Alito and Thomas have previously argued that the Supreme Court must take up any case that properly relies on its original jurisdiction, and Alito reiterated that belief here. Therefore, Alito stated, he would allow Texas to file his lawsuit, but he would “offer no other relief.” Also, Alito added, “He expresses it[ed] no view of another topic ”, which was raised in the case.
With the vote in the electoral college in just three days, efforts to challenge the election results through litigation will be virtually halted by Friday’s order. However, it is less clear that the Order can end the partisan difference in the country.
In the same set of orders, the judges added an unrelated case to their term of earnings record: a petition from investment bank Goldman Sachs who is the defendant in a class action alleging the company committed securities fraud by doing wrong testified about its business practices knowing that there were conflicts of interest in subprime mortgage transactions. The US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the district court did not misuse its discretion in certifying a shareholder class, and now the Supreme Court will review that decision at Goldman Sachs v Arkansas Teacher Retirement System.
[Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to SCOTUSblog in various capacities, is among counsel for the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System in Goldman Sachs v. Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. The author of this article is not affiliated with the firm.]
This article was originally published by Howe on the Court.
Amy Howe, Judges Drop Texas Lawsuit Blocking Election Results,
SCOTUSblog (December 11, 2020, 7:50 p.m.), https://www.scotusblog.com/2020/12/justices-throw-out-texas-lawsuit-that-sought-to-block-election-outcome/