Dec 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Texas lawsuit challenging swing-state election results

Texas AG Ken Paxton and President Trump in Texas in June. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images
Texas AG Ken Paxton and President Trump in Texas in June. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that sought to invalidate 10 million votes in four battleground states — Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin — that President Trump lost.

Why it matters: It's the latest and most significant legal defeat for Trump and his allies in their floundering attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. Trump tweeted Wednesday, "We will be INTERVENING in the Texas (plus many other states) case. This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!"

What they're saying: "The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution. Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot," the Supreme Court wrote.

Background: Paxton's suit asked justices to extend the deadline for election certification to Dec. 14, buying time for officials to investigate alleged voting irregularities in the four states.

  • 17 states filed a brief in the Supreme Court in support of Texas, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.
  • Over 120 House Republicans also backed the suit, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.).

The four states targeted by Paxton had until Thursday afternoon to respond.

  • Michigan responded: "The challenge here is an unprecedented one, without factual foundation or a valid legal basis."
  • Pennsylvania said the lawsuit is a "seditious abuse of the judicial process" and pleaded for the court to "send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated."
  • Georgia wrote: "Texas’s claims are no different than the multiple cases pressed in state and federal courts in Georgia over the past weeks. .... And none of that litigation has gone anywhere."

The state of Ohio — where Trump won — also wrote in opposition to the suit: "[T]he relief that Texas seeks would undermine a foundational premise of our federalist system: the idea that the States are sovereigns, free to govern themselves."

Between the lines: Paxton is battling whistleblower allegations in Texas that he illegally aided a wealthy real estate officer and engaged in bribery, the New York Times notes. The long-shot lawsuit he filed prompted speculation that he may be angling for a pardon, which Trump privately discussed handing out like "Christmas gifts," as Axios previously reported.

The big picture: Courts have already dismissed dozens of lawsuits and appeals by the Trump campaign and its allies in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and other states.

  • Attorney General Bill Barr said earlier this month that the Department of Justice has not yet seen any evidence of widespread voter fraud.
  • A growing number of Republicans are publicly acknowledging Trump's loss, but the vast majority of congressional Republicans have not.
Go deeper