Supreme Court scraps last GOP election lawsuit, ending five-month challenge to results

The decision has wider implications for future elections

Justin Vallejo
New York
Tuesday 20 April 2021 16:03

The ex-president had expected the election results to be decided by the Supreme Court

Leer en Español

After five months and an estimated 65 lawsuits, the GOP lost its final legal bid at challenging the results of the United States’ presidential election.

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed as moot a Republican challenge to the extension of Pennsylvania’s deadline to receive mail-in ballots.

It was the last challenge over Pennsylvania’s results, and the last of 65 cases brought by GOP plaintiffs, according to Democrat Party attorney Marc Elias, who has been tracking the post-election legal battle.

There were no noted dissents in the order to vacate a 13 November decision in the US Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the former congressional candidate, Jim Bognet, along with four voters, did not have legal standing to challenge the ballot deadline extension.

Mr Bognet, who lost the race to Democrat Matt Cartwright, had filed the suit against a ruling that allowed Pennsylvania officials to count mail-in ballots received three days after election day.

His case was dismissed on standing as he did not represent the state legislature. The legal argument put forward was that the Constitution gives the legislature authority on election issues, not the governor or the state courts.

Pennsylvania officials argued that the case was moot as it would have not affected the outcome of the election, given the margin of victory was well beyond the number of ballots in question.

"The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit with instructions to dismiss the case as moot," the order said.

The Supreme Court’s decision to vacate Mr Bognet’s case as moot is the latest in several election challenges it has refused to take up from Donald Trump and his supporters within the Republican Party.

In his first major speech since leaving office, Mr Trump attacked the Supreme Court for not "doing anything about" the election results.

The ex-president used a large portion of his address at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February to rail on the high court, one-third of which he appointed, for refusing to hear challenges to state courts that changed rules before the election.

"They didn’t have the courage, the Supreme Court, they didn’t have the courage to act, but instead used process and lack of standing," Mr Trump said. "They didn’t have the guts or the courage to make the right decision. They didn’t want to talk about it.”

While the case would not have affected the outcome of the last presidential election, any ruling could have been used in future election challenges.

Mr Trump and others used the legal argument in the Pennsylvania case to challenge the secretary of state’s decision to change mail-in voting deadlines, saying only the state legislature had that power.

Attorneys for Mr Bognet argued the Supreme Court should continue to hear the case to begin "lifting the shroud of doubt that hangs over this area of the law”.

Election law expert Rick Hasen told CNN before Monday’s ruling that such a decision would be a remarkable shift in election power in the states.

"A majority of Supreme Court justices could well believe that state legislatures have extraordinary power when it comes to setting the rules for federal elections, even if it means overruling state supreme courts relying on state constitutions to limit legislative power”, he said.

With the Supreme Court refusing to take up the case, the issue remains unresolved.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments