(CNN) — State attorneys general went to battle in the Supreme Court this Thursday taking sides in President Donald Trump’s attempt to achieve a legal victory unprecedented that would paralyze the elections.
By late afternoon, the court docket was littered with reports reacting to a risky lawsuit that sought to invalidate millions of votes and with them nullify the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had made the opening argument earlier in the week. He sought to sue four battle states and invalidate their election results. On Thursday, attorneys for those states – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – responded, criticizing Paxton’s arguments and stressing that he had no right to bring such an unusual lawsuit, particularly in the Supreme Court.
At the same time, a myriad of states and more than 100 members of Congress submitted so-called “friend of the court” or “amicus” briefs for both positions on the issue in order to educate judges on all angles of the dilemma. or at least score political points.
The Supreme Court is the zero point of a fight between the states. Now the great wait begins.
What’s next in the Supreme Court in the case of elections?
Under normal circumstances, Paxton, who started the case, has the opportunity to respond to the fiery reports that were filed Thursday afternoon. The states’ attorneys on the battlefield did not beat around the bush. For example, this is what the Pennsylvania attorney general said: “Let’s be clear. Texas is inviting this court to overthrow the votes of the American people and elect the next president.
Paxton, who never freaks out in battle, would have a lot to say about it. While magistrates could act before receiving that final report, they usually wait. They have not indicated their plans.
At approximately mid-morning on Friday, the judges will pick up their phones and dial the regular closed-door court conference.
Traditionally, it is a matter in the elegant conference room of the court. There the judges discuss pending issues. No employees or staff are allowed in the courtroom and the lower judge is in charge of opening the door if someone knocks. All that changed with the covid-19 pandemic. Now they must have their discussions on the phone. As recent oral arguments over the phone have shown, some of the magistrates seem to be tired of having to discuss complex issues without the benefit of face-to-face contact.
During the conference, they can discuss the pending matter. Basically, they have to decide how to handle three of Paxton’s requests: He wants them to temporarily block the election results in all four states, consider his case in an expedited time frame, and agree to have him present the case.
Which Supreme Court justices are key in this case?
All nine, really.
Although it is possible that in the end we will obtain an unsigned order of a sentence, as happened with the rejection on Tuesday of an attempt to rule out Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania. The justices don’t have to say how they voted, although in this case Paxton would need five votes to get what he wants.
But one thing for sure is that Chief Justice John Roberts would not want such an order to reflect a divided court. Most likely, you want the court to speak with authority, without public dissent. As for Trump, he may be looking at his own appointees – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – in the hope that they will take his side.
Why are so many states participating in the presidential election trial?
Although the case began with Texas challenging four states, it has grown into a dispute in which some 18 Republican attorneys general side with Texas and 22 states and territories led by Democrats they support the battlefield states that Biden won.
States are jumping mostly, but not entirely, along ideological lines, with full knowledge that this could be the last gasp, with voters voting this Monday. Its aim is to draw the attention of the court to every conceivable angle of the case and educate the judges on the possible repercussions of any eventual order.
The other benefit is advertising. It’s an opportunity to win the favor of your respective rank and file, even on something that is going nowhere in court.
Who is who in the case of the dispute in the Court for the elections
Defendant claims Biden won: Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
States with Republican Attorneys General Backing Texas: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia.
States / territories with Democrats backing the defendant states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the Islands US Virgins
Will the judges read any of these ambitious reports?
It is unusual, but not unprecedented, to have so many reports for such a case between states before the judges have acted.
By now, however, members of the court are likely intimately familiar with the legal issues at hand and know that Texas’ decision to go directly to court, while permitted, could set an unwanted precedent in the area. of the elections. The judges often have the clerks review the reports for a perspective worthwhile for the judges’ valuable time. However, the jurists have given much thought to many of these issues and were probably preparing for legal action given the tenor of the election. They may already be set up in your views.
The court has also been busy this week. On Thursday morning, he issued four opinions of cases heard earlier this fall (all decisions 8-0). Also on Thursday the judges considered and rejected a petition to stay the execution of Brandon Bernard.
What do the Democrats say about the case?
In general, the states where Biden won and other Democratic attorneys general say Texas does not have the “standing” or legal right to present the case. While it is true that disputes between states can go directly to the Supreme Court under what is called its “original jurisdiction,” they are often reserved for interstate disputes over issues such as borders or water rights.
Wisconsin Attorney General Joshua L. Kaul emphasized that point, arguing that the attempt to overturn the election of another state is an “intrusion.” The Constitution, Kaul said, leaves the electoral rules to the states.
Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr said the Supreme Court should not decide such a dispute because Texas could not prove direct legal harm. Carr had another idea: “There is another forum in which parties (unlike Texas) have standing can challenge Georgia’s compliance with its own electoral laws: Georgia’s own courts.”
They also said that Paxton had waited too long to present the case. As Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel put it, “Michigan elections are over.”
What do the Republicans say?
There is an emphasis on the idea that states changed electoral rules during the coronavirus pandemic without going through their legislatures, and the Republican side argues that Article II of the Constitution requires that exact step.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a report on behalf of several states (including Louisiana, which was misspelled in the filing). Schmitt echoed Paxton in the charge that non-legislative state actors had changed the rules in the battlefield states, leading to “unconstitutional administration of elections” in the states.
But many of those issues have already been litigated and his report did not point to any massive fraud. In fact, even William Barr, the United States Attorney General, has said that there was not as extensive fraud as Trump suggests.
Which members of Congress are contesting the election?
More of 100 House Republicans, including minority leader Steve Scalise, signed a plea from friends of the court endorsing Texas.
The signatories include several lawmakers from the four states Trump and Texas are trying to cast millions of votes out of: four from Georgia, four from Michigan, seven from Pennsylvania and one from Wisconsin.
What will happen to the elections if the votes are somehow ruled out?
This was not mentioned.
Do all Republicans agree with Paxton and Trump?
Absolutely not. Influential Conservatives spoke out this week against the lawsuit. The Republican Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, went so far as to say that he disagreed with the state attorney general’s decision to sign an amicus brief. “This is a reckless use of taxpayer money,” Herbert said in a statement.
Carter Phillips, one of the most respected appeals advocates in the country, who often appears before judges, also intervened against Paxton in a report. In his amicus brief, Phillips emphasized that the Constitution and federal law authorize states to manage their own electoral procedures. Not the Supreme Court.
Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas posted in a Twitter thread that he will not join the amicus report with other Republican members of Congress “because I believe the case itself represents a dangerous violation of federalism and sets a precedent for a state to ask federal courts to monitor the voting procedures of other states.
Ohio submitted its own brief claiming not to support either party. But in reality the state sounded quite critical of Paxton: “The relief that Texas seeks would undermine a fundamental premise of our federalist system: the idea that states are sovereign, free to govern themselves.”
Where is Joe Biden in all this chaos?
One voice that has been absent is the Democratic attorneys representing Biden. They have not come forward, probably because they believe the case is a remote offer and fear that a presentation by them could bring some kind of legitimacy to the dispute.
What is Trump doing?
Tuiteando, mainly. He has touted the states and legislators joined his search, and he also repeated the falsehood that he won the election. (You can read CNN’s Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam’s fact-check on Trump’s presentation to the Supreme Court.)
He also had more than a dozen Republican attorneys general in the White House on Thursday.
During a Hanukkah party at the White House Wednesday night, Trump told guests that with the help of “certain very important people, if they have wisdom and courage, we are going to win this election.”
The crowd chanted “four more years.”
– CNN’s Allie Malloy, Sam Fossum, Kristin Wilson and Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.
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