SCOTUS chucks Texas suit trying to overturn election in Michigan, other states

By: and - December 11, 2020 8:33 pm

President Donald J. Trump is seen in silhouette holding an umbrella as he talks to members of the press on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, prior to boarding Marine One to begin his trip to Hershey, Pa. | Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian via Flickr Public Domain

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday turned aside a Texas lawsuit that sought to derail the presidential election results from four battleground states, despite pressure on the justices from President Donald Trump on social media.

Indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, sued to invalidate the voting results of Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, all states won by Democratic President-elect Joe Biden. The Electoral College meets on Monday.

“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections,” according to the unsigned court order. “All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”

A second paragraph from Justice Samuel Alito that was joined by Justice Clarence Thomas stated: “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. See Arizona v. California, 589 U. S. ___ (Feb. 24, 2020) (Thomas, J., dissenting). 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.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said the decision means it’s time for the country to come together.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision 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,” she said. “To the people of the State of Michigan, it was a great honor to appear at our country’s highest court on your behalf to ensure that your voice was heard and that your votes were counted. Now it’s time to move forward — not as separate states, red or blue —  but as united states in the continuing pursuit of a more perfect union.”

However, more than half of the Republicans in the U.S. House — 126, with 20 added on Friday after they were left out earlier by a “clerical error” — had signed on to back a brief put forth earlier this week by Paxton.

They include four members from Michigan: U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet), Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) and John Moolenaar (R-Midland).

The new GOP signers included a member of leadership — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who joined a push spearheaded by Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (L-Cascade Twp.), a lawyer who left the GOP last year when he backed Trump’s impeachment and is retiring this year, didn’t mince words about his former partisans’ decision to back the suit.

“The election fraud hoax will go down as one of the most embarrassing and dishonorable episodes in American political history, and countless Republican officials went along with it and promoted it,” Amash wrote on Twitter.

Many Republicans in Congress have refused to directly state whether they believe Trump was defeated by President-elect Joe Biden on Nov. 3. Some have instead said that they support the president’s decision to challenge the election results in the courts.

None of the 80 Michigan state lawmakers responded to Michigan Advance inquiries this week about who won the election and if they back Trump’s attempts to overturn the election. On Thursday, 15 state House members announced they also were supporting the suit.

They are: State Reps. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Twp.), John Reilly (R-Oakland), Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), Matt Maddock (R-Milford), Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan), Douglas Wozniak (R-Shelby Twp.), Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton), Brad Paquette (R-Niles), Rodney Wakeman (R-Saginaw Twp.), Greg Markkanen (R-Hancock), Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann), Joe Bellino (R-Monroe), Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville).

Some Democrats took to Twitter to criticize lawmakers after the high court rejected the case.

“15 Michigan Republican legislators find themselves on the wrong side of history after signing onto a failed attempt to deny democracy led by a corrupt Texas politician,” said Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint). “The people have spoken. Democracy won. You lost.”

Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) made a reference to House GOP leaders removing state Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D-Detroit) from committee posts after an edited video of her response to threats against her made the rounds in right-wing social media.

“This is fantastic news. Never forget though that 15 #mileg GOP house members decided to actively violate the 14th Amendment, engage in #VoterSuppression & an attempt at disenfranchisement,” she said. “You’d think they’d get punished, lose their committees or something for doing so.”

Paxton alleges that officials in Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania illegally changed voting laws, which caused voting irregularities and changed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Trump made similar allegations on Twitter and on Friday he told the justices what they should do.

“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 tweeted.

Trump earlier this year nominated Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the high court, shifting it to a conservative majority.

Due to the pandemic, many states lobbied voters to submit absentee ballots, so Americans could maintain safety guidelines.

The FBI, U.S. Attorney General and Department of Justice have repeatedly stated that there is no evidence of voter fraud or election irregularities. On Monday, members of the electoral college will meet in statehouses to cast their ballots, confirming Biden’s win.

Members of the U.S. Senate on Friday failed to mount a drive to back the Texas suit similar to that of the House GOP.

Sen. Susan Collins, (R-Maine), expressed doubt to reporters on Capitol Hill that the lawsuit would succeed.

“I don’t think it’s likely to prevail given what the Supreme Court did in the Pennsylvania case, but I’m not familiar with the details of the lawsuit,” she said, according to pool reports.

Sen. Josh Hawley, (R-Mo.), told reporters that the Supreme Court could possibly find that the case has no standing.

He added that there’s not an attempt among Senate Republicans to do the same.

“My guess is it’s just nobody here sort of rounded up the troops,” he said. “Usually the way these things work on the amicus brief side… is somebody takes the lead and then says ‘I’ll write it and then I’ll get people to sign on.’ This was a pretty short fuse thing.’”

But some Senate Republicans said that the lawsuit is baseless and that states should not attempt to meddle in the affairs of other states.

“I’m never surprised by the House of Representatives,” Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said, according to pool reports.

Earlier Friday, he appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he questioned the legal argument underlying the Texas suit.

“I mean, our position, my position, Republicans believe that states are in charge of elections. And Texas is a big state, but I don’t know exactly why it has a right to tell four other states how to run their elections,” said Alexander.

A senior New Jersey Democrat, Rep. Bill Pascrell, chastised House Republicans who supported the Texas suit. Pascrell called for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to not swear in the returning and new GOP members who signed the brief into the 117th Congress.

“Simply stated, men and women who would act to tear the United States government apart cannot serve as Members of the Congress,” he said in a statement.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Ariana Figueroa
Ariana Figueroa

Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance.

Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 23-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on C-SPAN, MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQ people, the state budget, the economy and more. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 100 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive.