Officials from four presidential swing states forcefully criticized an effort by Texas and President Donald Trump to enlist the Supreme Court to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, with Pennsylvania calling the last-ditch legal effort “seditious” and built on an “absurd” foundation.
“The Court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated,” Pennsylvania said in a 43-page brief signed by Attorney General Josh Shapiro and his deputies.
“In support of such a request, Texas brings to the Court only discredited allegations and conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact,” the attorneys wrote. “Accepting Texas’s view would do violence to the Constitution and the Framers’ vision.”
The briefs from Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin — states targeted in Texas’ lawsuit, brought by Attorney General Ken Paxton, which Trump is attempting to join — directed their fury largely at Paxton. And they pleaded with the justices to reject the suit out of hand, warning that anything else would give states unprecedented power to sue each other to enforce their will, leading to waves of partisan retribution that shake the foundations of federalism.
“I mean, I can’t imagine how he has the standing to do that anyway,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said in an interview on Wednesday. “Nobody in Michigan elected AG Paxton to intervene in our electoral systems or processes here. And it’s just really bewildering to me, and exhausting.”
Michigan’s filing notes that several courts, both state and federal, had rejected similar claims to those Paxton had made: “The base of Texas’s claims rests on an assertion that Michigan has violated its own election laws. Not true. That claim has been rejected in the federal and state courts in Michigan, and just yesterday the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch effort to request an audit.”
Texas’ lawsuit makes a statistical argument against Biden’s victory, noting that he trailed in the early count of votes, but omitting the fact that many key states were legally prohibited from beginning to count mail-in ballots — which tilted heavily in favor of Democrats, thanks in part to a months-long effort by Trump to discredit them — until Election Day. It’s a fact that was well known ahead of the election, in which election administrators of both parties pleaded with the public and the media to have patience and not draw conclusions from early returns.
“Texas first alleges that ‘[t]he probability of former Vice President Biden winning the popular vote in the four Defendant States independently given President Trump’s early lead in those States as of 3 a.m. on November 4, 2020, is less than one in a quadrillion,’” the brief from Pennsylvania read, citing Texas’ so-called expert who assumed that those counted before and after early in the morning were the same pool of voters.
“But the votes counted later were indisputably not ‘randomly drawn’ from the same population of votes, as those counted earlier were predominantly in-person votes while those counted later were predominantly mail-in votes,” the Pennsylvania filing continued, noting that Texas’ own filing highlighted the fact that Democratic voters were more likely to vote by mail.
Georgia, the only one of the four targeted states run by Republicans, issued a similarly weighty rejection of Paxton’s suit.
“The novel and far-reaching claims that Texas asserts, and the breathtaking remedies it seeks, are impossible to ground in legal principles and unmanageable,” the Georgia filing read. “This Court has never allowed one state to co-opt the legislative authority of another state, and there are no limiting or manageable principles to cabin that kind of overreach.”
Texas’ lawsuit drew skepticism even among Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have broadly been supportive of the president’s efforts to undermine faith in the democratic system. Some Texas GOP lawmakers, including Sen. John Cornyn, raised questions about the merits. Rep. Chip Roy called it “a dangerous violation of federalism,” and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy twice dodged questions about whether he backed the legal effort.
However, a group of 106 House Republicans signed a friend of the court briefing, arguing the defendant states acted illegally and that their electors should be prevented from voting.
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