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U.S. Supreme Court formally pulls the plug on election-related cases

PoliticsFeb 22, 2021 11:41AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The female figure called the Contemplation of Justice is seen in a general view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington

By Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday brought a formal end to eight lingering disputes pursued by former President Donald Trump and his allies related to the Nov. 3 presidential election including a Republican challenge to the extension of Pennsylvania's deadline to receive mail-in ballots.

The justices turned away appeals by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and Republican members of the state legislature of a ruling by Pennsylvania's top court ordering officials to count mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Election Day and received up to three days later.

Three of the nine-member court's six conservative justices - Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch - dissented from the decision not to hear the Pennsylvania case.

Trump, a Republican, lost his re-election bid to Democrat Joe Biden, who took office on Jan. 20. Biden defeated Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania and the legal case focused on fewer than 10,000 ballots.

The high court, as expected, also rejected two Trump appeals challenging Biden's victories in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin based on claims that the rules for mail-in ballots in the two election battleground states were invalid. The court also turned away separate cases brought by Trump allies in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona - all states won by Biden.

It already was clear that the high court had no intention to intervene in the cases because it did not act before Congress on Jan. 6 certified Biden's victory. That formal certification was interrupted when a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. The court also turned down motions to expedite the election cases.

Trump made false claims that the presidential election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud and irregularities.

The case brought by Pennsylvania Republicans concerned 9,428 ballots out of 6.9 million cast in the state. The Supreme Court previously rejected a Republican request to block the lower court ruling allowing the ballots to be counted.

In his dissent, Thomas said the Supreme Court should resolve whether non-legislators, including elections officials and courts, have any power to set election rules. Thomas said it was fortunate that the state high court's ruling did not involve enough ballots to affect the election's outcome.

"But we may not be so lucky in the future," Thomas wrote.

The election dispute in Pennsylvania, like in several other states, involved changes implemented to facilitate voting during the coronavirus pandemic, a public health crisis that prompted a surge in mail-in ballots as voters sought to avoid crowded polling places.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court sided with the state's Democratic Party and various Democratic officials and candidates who argued that an Election Day mail-in ballot receipt deadline would violate the state constitution's guarantee of "free and equal" elections given the pandemic and warnings by the U.S. Postal Service over its ability to deliver ballots in time.

The state Republican Party intervened in the case to oppose the deadline extension. It argued that the state court usurped the Republican-controlled legislature's authority in ordering the extension.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, told the justices in a filing that particularly given Trump's repeated attempts to overturn the election result based on unfounded claims of voting fraud, "the court should not plunge itself into the political thicket by granting a case that will not affect the outcome of any election."

U.S. Supreme Court formally pulls the plug on election-related cases
 

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Comments (5)
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 22, 2021 8:44PM ET
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Yeah, these were a joke.
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey Feb 22, 2021 12:38PM ET
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So what if these cases will not effect the outcome, why are the democrats so afraid for the cases to be heard in court???
Adrian White
Adrian White Feb 22, 2021 12:38PM ET
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Eudon, you clearly don't understand the legal system. It's not "Democrats" who are stopping the cases from being heard in court. It's the judges - and in this case, the 6-to-3 Conservative SCOTUS, no less. They're being tossed out for lack of merit and lack of evidence, and a waste of the courts' time.
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey Feb 22, 2021 12:38PM ET
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Adrian White - if a thief can take you to court for breaking his finger in your house when he breaks in, then why are the cases denied to be heard in court(if the democrats are so confident, it should be easy to win and easy money....right!)? Ot ised to be easy to sue for anything, now, you are not even given an opportunity.After all, USA was the land of choice, opportunities and justice. Now, it is not. China is number one
Ted Byrley
ByerlyCastle Feb 22, 2021 12:27PM ET
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I can tell by the likes and dislikes that everyone is afraid.
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey Feb 22, 2021 12:05PM ET
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They dont even want to look at the evidence or ballots. Its a shame. USA is officially a communist country, disguished as a democratic country
Adrian White
Adrian White Feb 22, 2021 12:05PM ET
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Eudon, the ballots were already looked at by the individual states that certified the results. The only "shame" is how a US president can get away with such obvious lies, and manage to dupe such a large percentage of Republicans into believing his nonsense. The courts (mostly lead by Republican judges) thankfully had the sense to follow the law and not be swayed.
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey Feb 22, 2021 12:05PM ET
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Adrian, double standards are clearly on display here. You chased trump for 4years(even had a $$$$million committee -paid by tax payers- set up, only to come out with zero), yet when you challenged to court(paid by individuals), you deny/accuse, spit and curse. The ballots were never really audited, the way they would audit you tax returns(the audit conducted was a joke).what we have seen in the UK, clearly shows even the paper, ink, used, was different and how 83% of ballots submitted, had fault and then 87% went to sniffer Biden.If you look at Biden Harris support during rallies, you night find 500 people there. You look at Trump rallies, you would find 1000’s there...you tell me, deep down you know what i am talking about
milena villa escobar
milena villa escobar Feb 22, 2021 11:42AM ET
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It's official .  not a court in the land will allow the Republican party to present its evidence.    the supreme Court being the worst of them.  Cowards
Saroop Calvete
Saroop Calvete Feb 22, 2021 11:42AM ET
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True. If you file a suit before the election, it is too early because there is no cause of action, no injury.  If you file your suit after the election, it is a moot question, the election has been certified and we do not want to interfere. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Chris Cummins
Chris Cummins Feb 22, 2021 11:42AM ET
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Saroop Calvete  Incorrect, that is not why the cases were turned away. Even conservative judges can smell partisan garbage.
Adrian White
Adrian White Feb 22, 2021 11:42AM ET
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Listen, Crybabies, there are minimum levels of actual evidence required, as well as merit, for a case to be heard. Clearly, the Trump team's cases didn't pass the smell test. Guiliani was recorded even admitting to one of the judges that they were not alleging fraud in the election. Their cases were nothing but a show put on, to give Trump supporters a false reason to feel outraged so that they would make more political donations which Trump is using to pay off his debts.
 
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