Election Law

Texas AG asks SCOTUS to overturn election results in 4 states via its original petition

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Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Photo from TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to accept a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the election results in the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The Dec. 7 lawsuit invokes the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction to resolve disputes among the states, according to tweets by Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. He labeled the filing on Twitter the “new leader in the ‘craziest lawsuit filed to purportedly challenge the election’ category.”

Vladeck predicts that the court will reject the state’s motion seeking permission to file the suit. It takes five votes for acceptance.

Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins did not sign the motion or the lawsuit, notes journalist Chris Geidner on Twitter. The allegations in the suit are contrary to U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s statement that the government has uncovered no evidence of widespread election fraud.

Publications covering the filing include Law360 and the Texas Tribune. A press release is here.

State officials in Georgia and Michigan disputed the allegations in statements, according to the Texas Tribune. Georgia’s deputy secretary of state, Jordan Fuchs, said the claims “are false and irresponsible.” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the suit is “a publicity stunt, not a serious legal pleading.”

The Texas suit says government officials in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania weakened ballot integrity through election law changes enacted by “executive fiat or friendly lawsuits,” allowed mail-in ballots “with little or no chain of custody,” and weakened security measures for verification of signatures.

Those changes “flagrantly violated constitutional rules governing the appointment of presidential electors,” the suit says. The suit describes allegations in lawsuits that include ballots being run multiple times through tabulators and “mysterious late-night dumps of thousands of ballots.”

The suit asks the Supreme Court to bar the states from voting in the Electoral College until the suit is resolved, and when ruling on the merits, to vacate the states’ certifications of electors.

Rick Hasen, a professor at the University of California at Irvine School of Law, wrote about the suit at his Election Law Blog.

“My view in brief: This is a press release masquerading as a lawsuit,” Hasen wrote. “Texas doesn’t have standing to raise these claims as it has no say over how other states choose electors; it could raise these issues in other cases and does not need to go straight to the Supreme Court; it waited too late to sue; the remedy Texas suggests of disenfranchising tens of millions of voters after the fact is unconstitutional; there’s no reason to believe the voting conducted in any of the states was done unconstitutionally; it’s too late for the Supreme Court to grant a remedy even if the claims were meritorious (they are not).”

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