12/11 SCOTUS to Texas: Game Over

Published: 12.11.20

This evening, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an outrageous Texas lawsuit that asked the Court to throw out the presidential election results in four battleground states won by President-elect Joe Biden. The one-sentence order refused the case for lack of standing — in other words, the Court believed that Texas wasn’t injured by its sister states’ voting laws. Paired with the Court’s rejection on Tuesday of a similar request from Pennsylvania Republicans, the ruling today signals that the Court is refusing to be drawn into overturning the election.

Just a few hours earlier, the VPP held a press briefing to discuss why Texas’s suit would be roundly rejected by the Court, and why it was no more than a stunt to undermine election results. The bipartisan briefing featured remarks from Joanna Lydgate, VPP National Director, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul,  and VPP advisory board members former Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth and former New Hampshire Attorney General Tom Rath. The recording is available here.

Here’s your daily update:

National Update

Game Over for Texas: This evening, in an unsigned order, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeking to overturn the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The court found that Texas lacked standing to sue. Or, as the Court put it, “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.” While scattered litigation across the country will persist, this order puts to bed any notion that President Trump will win in the courts what he lost at the polls. Read more here.

Barr Watch : Attorney General Bill Barr has told others he plans to remain in his post through the end of the Trump administration, setting aside rumors that he might step down by the end of the year, according to a person told of his decision. Read more here.

State Updates

Georgia: House Speaker David Ralston said Thursday that he will seek a state constitutional amendment for state legislators — not voters — to choose Georgia’s top elections official. Ralston’s announcement is widely viewed as an attempt to blame Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for perceived election problems. Read more here.

State Leaders Spotlight

DC: Attorney General Karl Racine says six Republican attorney generals “deserve credit” for not backing Texas’s lawsuit to overturn election results. “They stood up against withering, coercive pressure,” Racine said. Watch the clips of AG Racine here.

Michigan: Attorney General Dana Nessel says the failed TX lawsuit to invalidate Michigan’s certified election results “would essentially mean the end of democracy in the U.S.,” adding, “that is not hyperbole.” Watch the clip of AG Nessel here.

Pennsylvania: Attorney General Josh Shapiro calledout Sen. Ted Cruz after President Trump asked Cruz to argue Texas’s election lawsuit in front of the Supreme Court. Cruz will now not get the chance to argue, because the Court refused to hear the case. Watch the clip of AG Shapiro on CNN here.

Legal Corner

Like every day since November 3, this was not a good day for frivolous Election Truther lawsuits in the nation’s courts. But Trump’s highest-profile case probably wasn’t the closest call.

The big news of course: The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Texas’ shameful attempt to steal the vote from residents of its sister states. But that end was never in doubt. Texas was wrong on the law, and (at best) misrepresenting the facts. Granting Texas relief would have meant opening the doors for every state to sue over the collateral impact of other states’ laws. A conservative court was never going to take such an expansive view of “standing,” the legal doctrine that hinges eligibility to sue on a litigant’s ability to show a concrete and particularized  injury.

Not as much drama attended another case that went against Donald Trump today — Trump v. Biden, No. 2020CV007092 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Milwaukee Cnty.). The backstory there was Biden’s 20,000+ vote victory in Wisconsin. After the results were certified, Trump demanded and received a recount in two heavily Democratic counties, Dane — home to Madison — and Milwaukee. The recount didn’t change the outcome, so Trump sued. He claimed that about 200,000 absentee ballots should have been excluded from the count because they were cast in compliance with administrative rules that allegedly violated state laws. For instance, Trump took issue with the forms that were used in applying for the ballots, and with election officials collecting ballots at public get-out-the-vote events. When the state supreme court refused to hear his case immediately, he lodged his suit in a state trial court.

Today, state Judge Stephen Simanek affirmed the recount results, handing Trump another loss. Ruling from the bench, Judge Simanek found that the rules were reasonable under state law. So he didn’t even need to reach the larger problem with Trump’s suit: even if the rules did contravene the law, that wasn’t voters’ fault. And the Constitution does not permit a judge to throw out non-fraudulent ballots cast by voters who were just following the rules. Trump will now appeal to the same state supreme court that refused to hear this same case last week.

Messaging Guidance about SCOTUS Decision: TX v. PA

  • The U.S. Supreme Court delivered Trump another defeat today in his failed quest to undermine the will of the American voters.
    • The Court rejected Texas’s unprecedented last-ditch effort to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, and Wisconsin.
  • Leaders and legal experts across the country, on both sides of the aisle, swiftly spoke out against this shocking attempt to throw out the votes of millions of Americans—and tonight, the court agreed: this lawsuit isn’t going anywhere.
  • AG Paxton’s lawsuit was frivolous and irresponsible — and as the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted a “lost legal cause.”
    • The American people have spoken, and states have certified their election results. It’s time to move forward as a country.
    • These baseless attempts to undermine the will of the people need to come to an end.
    • We need our leaders rebuilding our economy, beating this virus, and bringing our country back together.

  • We need to support our election officials, who have done their jobs so well under unprecedented circumstances.
    • Our democracy relies on the state and local officials who administer our elections. Everyone – from both parties – should have their backs.
    • Election officials are unfortunately experiencing threats and harassment from extremists who refuse to accept the election results.

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