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Supreme Court rejects Republican vote challenge in Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a request by Republicans in Pennsylvania to overturn the state’s election results. The judges said they would not block a decision by Pennsylvania’s highest court that would have dismissed a challenge to the use of mail-in ballots in the state. The Supreme Court order was only one sentence long and there were no dissent noted.

The Supreme Court’s request for intercession encountered significant legal hurdles, as it was filed long after the enactment of the contested law that allowed postal votes and was based on matters of state rather than federal law.

At the end of November, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sentenced the plaintiffs, led by Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican, on the first ground, saying they could have challenged a 2019 law allowing postal voting for some reason there. is over a year old.

“By the time this action was filed on November 21, 2020, millions of Pennsylvania voters had already expressed their will in the June 2020 primary and November 2020 general election,” the court said. “The petitioners did not act with due diligence in making the request in this case. Equally clear is the substantial harm flowing from the petitioners’ failure to swiftly implement a facial challenge to the statutory postal voting system, as such inaction would result in the denial of the right to vote for millions of Pennsylvania voters. .

The plaintiffs had asked the state court to overturn the ballots mailed after the fact or to ask the state legislature to choose Pennsylvania voters.

The filing in the United States Supreme Court sought an order directing state officials not to take any further steps to certify the vote in Pennsylvania or to “quash any action already taken” while the plaintiffs pursued a lawsuit. call. The request was directed to Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., a member of the Emergency Claims Tribunal for State Decisions.

The case challenged the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s interpretation of state law. The Supreme Court of the United States does not generally question these decisions.

Urging judges not to intercede, state attorneys said the Republicans’ demands were “an affront to constitutional democracy.”

“The petitioners ask this tribunal to undertake one of the most dramatic and disruptive invocations of the judiciary in the history of the Republic,” they wrote. “No court has ever issued an order quashing a governor’s certification of presidential election results.”

They said there were four flaws in the challengers’ arguments. At the United States Supreme Court, the challengers said state law conflicts with federal constitutional provisions governing elections. But they had not made that point squarely in their major filings in state courts, and the Supreme Court usually does not rule on issues that have not been decided first by a lower court.

Additionally, state attorneys wrote, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision was based on a state law issue. This “adequate and independent state law ground” for the decision, they wrote, prevents review by the United States Supreme Court.

They added that the challengers had not suffered the kind of concrete harm that would give them standing to sue and that the 2019 law was not at odds with the state constitution.

Either way, state attorneys wrote, the issue is largely moot, as the state election results in favor of Joseph R. Biden Jr. have been certified and submitted. The challengers’ final argument, they wrote, is that the Supreme Court should simply overturn the state’s election results. This request, they wrote, was mind-boggling and unconstitutional.