Election 2020

GOP Politicians and the Presidential Electors Suit

It might just be political posturing at this point, but the GOP is going down a dangerous path

|

The embattled Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, an elected Republican, recently filed suit in the Supreme Court seeking an injunction against the seating of Democratic presidential electors in four states and a remand to the Republican-controlled state legislatures to name a new slate of presidential electors. Although the suit has no chance of success, relies on highly dubious claims, and seeks an extraordinary remedy that would have the effect of overturning the results of a presidential election, it has attracted a great deal of attention. (Full disclosure: I have joined an amicus brief in opposition to the Texas suit.)

I am not concerned, except tangentially, with the merits of the suit here. What I want to note is the extent to which high-level Republican politicians have gone all in on this suit. Most of the (very unsuccessful) litigation surrounding the presidential election has been brought by the Trump campaign and relied on the services of marginal legal figures. The Texas suit is different. It has, of course, been endorsed by the Trump campaign. But more notably, Republican politicians have felt the need to weigh in on this one as they have not with the other suits. A large number of Republican attorneys general urged the Court to accept the suit. A somewhat smaller number endorsed the merits of the arguments. A majority of the Republican caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives have filed an amicus brief supporting Texas. Meanwhile, Republican senators and other state officials have had to publicly distance themselves from the suit.

We are no longer in the "the president has the right to pursue his legal remedies" phase of the process. We are now in the "the Republican Party is now tying itself to Donald Trump's quixotic quest to overturn the certified election results" phase. This is a disturbing development and a further sign that the Republican Party will not soon return to its traditional principles but will remain deeply influenced by Trump's particular populist style of politics.

The Texas suit has become an opportunity for Republican politicians to signal to their voters where they stand. In my book, Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy, I show that this dynamic is part of how the Supreme Court has developed into its modern form as a powerful political institution enjoying an aura of judicial supremacy that encourages other political actors to defer to its declarations. Lawsuits allow politicians to engage in what the congressional scholar David Mayhew called "position taking," acting in public to align themselves with positions favored by their voters even when their actions have no policy consequences. Voters reward politicians for agreeing with them even when politicians are unable to deliver any tangible benefits. As is said about Donald Trump, the base loves the fact that "he fights," even if those fights never result in any real victories.

The Court provides one mechanism by which politicians can grandstand and play to the crowds without having to actually take responsibility for their actions. The Clinton administration, for example, thought provisions of the Communications Decency Act were clearly unconstitutional, but with an election coming up and Congress moving toward passing the measure, the administration swallowed its doubts and enjoyed the benefit of trying to do something about smut. When the Court inevitably struck the measure down, the administration could get its favored constitutional result while continuing to tell voters that the president is fighting as hard as he can to clean up the Internet. The unelected judges can take the blame for doing the dirty work of protecting the Constitution from popular policies.

Amicus briefs filed to the Supreme Court are a perfect opportunity for political posturing and a pure form of cheap talk. The politicians filing such briefs do not have to take responsibility for doing anything themselves. They can simply signal to their voters that they are in agreement with them. The fact that this particular suit is doomed makes it an even better political opportunity because there is no danger that such a brief might actually be consequential. The unelected justices will do the dirty work of telling the president—and his supporters—that he lost. The politicians can go back to their constituents and tell them, "hey, I tried. I was out there fighting for him."

But even if all this is just political posturing, it is not inconsequential. It is, in fact, deeply disturbing. First, political leaders of one party are, in large numbers, rushing to throw over constitutional and democratic principles in an effort to curry favor with a president who refuses to accept the reality of an electoral loss. The president's efforts have gone far beyond the pursuit of ordinary remedies to close and contested elections. He has engaged in an unprecedented campaign to undermine faith in the American democratic system and has pursued every potential path to overturning a clear electoral defeat and install himself in a second term of office. If he were actually successful in doing so, the consequences for the future of American democracy would be dramatic. He has been tolerated in part because no responsible political leader thinks he could actually be successful in these efforts, but we have now moved well beyond mere tolerance.

This is no longer Trump being Trump. This is now significant components of the Republican Party lending their own reputations to the effort to undermine American constitutional democracy and providing political cover for acts that would once have seemed outlandish. They are moving the baseline of what we can expect in future elections, and the result will make American democracy less secure.

Second, we should take note of why elected Republicans feel the need to posture in this way. They are doing so because they believe it is a popular position among their constituents that the election was stolen, that Joe Biden's presidency would be illegitimate, and that citizens should act by any means necessary to keep Donald Trump in the White House. Although Americans generally express their preference for democracy, there is evidence that many Americans are surprisingly open to the subversion of democratic norms, values and institutions if doing so would favor their particular party. Moreover, voters with authoritarian preferences have particularly favored Donald Trump's candidacy and presidency. We have tended to count on political leaders not to cater to those impulses within the American electorate. Elected Republicans apparently see it as currently in their political self-interest precisely to cater to those non-democratic forces. In these briefs, they are primarily doing so with cheap talk. The danger is that they do so with more concrete policy action as well.

This is a bad sign about where we are as a country, and where the GOP is as a party.  Soon Donald Trump will vacate the White House and his elected successor will occupy the office of the presidency, but the lengths that some Republicans were willing to go to prevent that outcome is discouraging and will have consequences long after the inauguration.

NEXT: Texas AG Files Reply Briefs in Last Ditch Effort to Upend Election Result

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “I have joined an amicus brief in opposition to the Texas suit.”

    So you willingly joined the circus too.

    “Amicus briefs filed to the Supreme Court are a perfect opportunity for political posturing and a pure form of cheap talk. ”

    Ah, no self awareness at all.

    1. Hey, to democratic “socialists”, the Constitution is just a drag on their power. They expect to be able to do whatever they want when they gain power. That this socialist dismisses the unconstitutional dictatorial changes made by bureaucrats and NOT the legislatures, hey, that’s just business as usual. And the socialist mouthpieces in the bought and paid for media will echo the righteousness of that usurpation of power.

      1. I see a lot of words, but nothing about the current controversy…

    2. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke

      According to Bob from Ohio, doing nothing is the appropriate response here.

      1. “doing nothing is the appropriate response here.”

        Amicus briefs by random law professors? Correct.

        The 4 defendants filed briefs, lots of people said the PA one was particularly good.

        An amicus brief under the circumstances is just stupid, no matter what side it supports.

        1. I kind of liked the Ohio amicus brief.

          1. SCOTUS original jurisdiction cases are not discretionary, there should be not request leave to file a bill of complaint.

          2. The constitution gives presidential election rules exclusively to the state legislatures. Executive branch actors and/or judges have no authority to alter these rules.

          3 Texas loses on the merits because #2 means SCOTUS does not have the authority to grant the relief Texas wants.

  2. Is it dangerous because it challenges your worldview?

    Or are you afraid that the fraud will come to light?

    1. If by “your worldview” you mean “the foundational principal of our democracy that the people get to elect their leaders,” sure.

      1. Nope – “Orange Man Bad”.

        Because if it was Trump who had won, the Democrats would be questioning the same stuff.

        But I would guess that isn’t at all challenging “the foundational principal of our democracy that the people get to elect their leaders”.

        We have just lived through a slow-roll 4 year coup where the Democrats have questioned the legitimacy of Trump at every turn. You are a little butthurt that the Republicans are giving you a taste of your own medicine.

        Suck it up, buttercup.

        1. Because if it was Trump who had won, the Democrats would be questioning the same stuff.

          No better argument than one you completely pulled out of your ass. The fact is that Trump won in 2016 and the Democrats didn’t “question the same stuff.”

          So the premise on which you criticize them is false.

          You suck it up.

          1. “Democrats didn’t “question the same stuff.”

            No, they questioned different stuff. Then launched a 4 year Resistance!!! including a stupid and senseless impeachment.

            1. So it’s you that is butthurt. Got it.

              And now, they didn’t launch a 4-year resistance. Yes, they stood up for their priorities and principles. No, you don’t agree with them. But no, that’s not a “4-year resistance” any more than republicans not agreeing with Obama was an 8-year resistance. It’s just politics. That’s kind of what they are supposed to do.

              More important, none of what you wrote is justification for the attempt to dismantle American democracy, which is what this lawsuit is.

              1. They called it a resistance. I am confident which country they get that word from. And the only principles most national Democrats have are the ones that will get them the desired results.

                1. Right, an intentional Nazi reference to let everybody know who they thought Trump and his voters were.

                  Now they are all gaslighting us [“oh, we accepted the results”] though it was only 4 years ago.

                  1. So the choice of hashtag you don’t like is equivalent to threatening the peaceful transition of power. Got it, #bothsides.

                    It is also entertaining to hear the impeachment come up. I’m so old I remember when conservatives would have given a damn about a fledgling democracy trying to clean up after years of autocratic grift instead of getting in on the extortion. At least in public.

            2. How many lawsuits did Clinton file to try to overturn the election?

              How many lies did she tell about it?

              How many state legislators did she try to pressure into overturning their states’ results?

              Look. You hate that Trump lost and can’t believe it could happen legitimately. Too bad. That doesn’t make your alternate reality true.

              1. “How many lies did she tell about it?”

                She was still saying 4 years later in October, 2020 that it was “stolen”.

                Your side just used different tactics than law suits.

                1. She didn’t claim she would have won every state if only the “legal” votes were counted, as has Trump.

                  She didn’t claim secretaries of state or other state officials were corrupt because they certified the results.

                  She didn’t call state officials and try to get them to certify results different from the actual vote tallies.

                  She didn’t claim fraud, much less fraud without any proof.

                  She didn’t file or join in a lawsuit to try to get hundreds of thousands of lawful ballots thrown out on the grounds that unprovable fraud must have occurred because she lost.

                  She didn’t claim she won the popular vote despite actually losing it because, she did actually win it.

                  Was her statement that the election was “stolen” wrong? Yes. She should not have said that. It was not helpful because it allows people like you to sing the whatabout song. But is that one statement the same as Trump’s multiple tweets, statements at rallies, and overt acts to try to get certified election results thrown out without the inconvenience of actually proving any fraud? It isn’t. Don’t pretend it is.

                  Hillary lost for a reason and her “stolen” comment reveals the character/political flaw that contributed to the overarching reason. But that’s a far cry from actually trying to “overturn” the results of an election without showing actual fraud to a court.

                  Hillary isn’t great, but that does not excuse an all-out assault on the election.

                  1. So, she was lazy. She still lied and others did the undermining of the 2016 election for her.

                    “Pee tape”, “counterintelligence” spying on the campaign, Steele “dossier”, pussyhat rallies, riots at the inauguration, Mueller, impeachment etc..

                    1. Bob,

                      Even accepting that premise, there is actually a huge difference between the President of the United States (or, less but still important, a failed candidate for President) making batshit crazy claims and using the power of his office to lean on state officials and having people like Rush Limbaugh and even random House members saying batshit crazy things. But you know this.

                      And you ignore that no HC surrogates leaned on state officials, no surrogates claimed she actually won any states she lost due to “obvious, but impossible to prove” fraud, no surrogates filed lawsuits seeking to throw out hundreds of thousands of ballots. In other words, even her surrogates didn’t undermine the democracy the way Trump is. Right now. With your complicity.

                      The Office of the President is uniquely powerful and special. Trump defecates on it routinely, but you are all “what about what private citizen so-and-so said” or “the Left” or even literally any other non-President.

                      With great power comes great responsibility.*

                      (*unless you’re a Republican and Bob has a say).

          2. Because if it was Trump who had won, the Democrats would be questioning the same stuff.

            Granting this dubious premise—what’s your point? If the Democrats did that, they would also be in the wrong. Moral people aspire to be better than their adversaries, not to descend to the worst that they imagine they’re capable of.

            1. Are you saying hypothetical whataboutism is not a mic-drop argument? Someone needs to alert Brett to this startling news.

            2. “Moral people aspire to be better than their adversaries, not to descend to the worst that they imagine they’re capable of.”

              An excellent statement we all need to bear in mind. And one that I’m worried that some Democrats aren’t going to adhere to either.

          3. So Hillary didn’t spend the last 4 years claiming Trump only won because of Russian interference?

            1. How many state officials did she try to cajole into violating the law to declare her the winner notwithstanding the actual vote count?

              How many lawsuits did she or corrupt state AG’s trying to secure a pardon file seeking to throw out hundreds of thousands of lawful ballots because “statistics!!!”?

              Yeah, zero. Has Hillary gone too far in saying things like “stolen”? I think so. Is that the same as Trump’s ongoing assault on democracy? Hardly. It doesn’t speak well of you that you either pretend they are the same or, more doubtful, actually believe they are the same thing.

          4. They didn’t question the same stuff, because they hadn’t had an excuse to turn the election into a dumpster fire by changing how it was conducted at the last minute, in multiple states, and usually without bothering with the triviality of changing the laws.

            This time they used Covid as an excuse to turn the election into such a mess that, had Trump won, they’d be able to plausibly deny it and fight on, even as Trump is.

            1. Hypothetical whataboutism is the best!

        2. Can you try that again, but this time without using an argument disproved by history?

    2. You miss the whole point, apparently.

      We are not afraid that actual fraud will come to light. That is not a worst-case scenario. If there was actual fraud and we discover it and correct for it, that is a good thing. The worst case scenario is that the fraud doesn’t exist but the specter of it is used to justify an erosion of American democracy that has lasting damage on our country.

      The simplest thing is required to prevent this: a political spine. Leadership. The willingness to admit there is no evidence of fraud and move on.

      1. Yes you are afraid. Because if it is exposed, then Biden loses.

        We have just lived through a slow-roll 4 year coup where the Democrats have questioned the legitimacy of Trump at every turn. You are a little butthurt that the Republicans are giving you a taste of your own medicine.

        In any event, Biden will be the “Commander in Thief”.

        1. If you, or any of the plaintiffs in the 50+ lawsuits that have been thrown out, had even a shred of evidence to support your theories of how the election was stolen, we’d all listen to you.

          But you don’t. You have nothing but figments of imagination. And yet you all profession that it’s not a cult.

          1. The Democrats learned to conceal their machinations from Capone and Corleone.

            1. Capone went to prison; Corleone is fictional.

              Of the two, the Trumpist claims resemble Corleone.

      2. What if there’s no great amount of fraud, but a great deal of illegality proven? Is it OK to violate election laws as long as the violation doesn’t consist of fraud?

        What if some of the illegality is of a nature that would permit fraud to go undetected and unprovable?

        If I were your accountant, and after moving funds around, I set fire to all your financial records? You’d hardly be able to prove I’d embezzled, but would you maybe suspect it?

        1. Your desire to get your way is stronger than your respect for the constitution
          I get it

          there was fraud, plenty, by republicans
          rural Georgia, Laquisha Smith sends in her ballot, how often was it rejected for technical reasons?

          yeah, but it doesn’t serve your argument

          the voters did nothing wrong, disenfranchising them is always the wrong answer

          unless it serves your purpose

        2. What if there’s no great amount of fraud,

          But trump and his minions have been telling us since the election that there was massive fraud, and they have the evidence to prove it. Remember McEnaney waving this affidavits around?

          Suddenly, when they get into court, no fraud claims. WTF. And you buy it all.

          1. Yes, they’re assuming massive fraud, for the same reason you’d assume your accountant was an embezzler if he took all your financial records and burned them to ashes: “Why would you do something like that, except to conceal fraud?”

            But all they’ll ever be able to prove is that the financial records got set on fire. The illegalities.

            But shouldn’t the illegalities matter?

            1. There were zero illegalities.

              Also, no, they should not, unless they are material. Election laws have no value for their own sake; if they do not serve the purpose of running an ethical election, they should be ignored. If a state says that a voter must hop on one foot while casting a vote, and the voter does not do so, then his vote should still count even though it is “illegal” because that rule retards, rather than advances, the purpose of elections.

    3. The fraud already supposedly came to light under Powell’s “Kraken” lawsuit. It seems to have fizzled…

    4. The Texas lawsuit isn’t even about fraud. It’s basically, “Hey, those other states weren’t trying to suppress the vote like we were! As a result, more of their citizens were able to vote! That’s not fair to us!”

      1. The fact that anyone can accuse those other states of “suppressing the votes” and not be snickering under their breath doing it is a testament to how utterly unserious some people are.

  3. “We are no longer in the ‘the president has the right to pursue his legal remedies’ phase of the process.”

    I dunno. I would have thought that supporting Texas’s lawsuit is “pursuing legal remedies”.

    But then again, I’m not the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University, so what do I know.

    1. We are weeks past legitimate lawsuits, if there ever were any
      IF fraud was going to come to light it would have by now, or no election has ever been legitimate

      When trumpski called the Michigan county election officials he threw ‘legitimate’ right out the window

      Election results have nothing to do with anyone’s worldview, that fact that anyone thinks so shows they do not understand elections

      trump won the election with a minority vote in 2016, he could not pull the same trick twice

      Deal with it

      Or provide something more than bluster as evidence

      1. If we are “weeks past legitimate lawsuits”, then Texas’s lawsuit will be dismissed as frivolous and the whole thing goes away, with no harm whatsoever to anyone.

        BTW, I am a Clinton and Biden voter, not a Trump supporter.

        1. ‘no harm whatsoever’ is not how I view it

          1. Who is harmed party, if/when the lawsuit is dismissed?

            1. The entire country has been harmed by a blatant attack on democracy

        2. This is not a good take. You know full well that if the current lawsuit is dismissed then the idiot trump humpers will just try something else. “No harm” indeed…

        3. I think you mistaken with your claim of “no harm whatsoever to anyone.”

          Already, we see some Trump supporters, hypnotized by absurd claims by fraud, willing to resort to force to overturn the results of what they believe to be a stolen election. We will be fortunate if no one is killed by violence.

          Moreover, Republican leaders are locking themselves into an ideological straightjacket designed by President Trump. For the next four years — at least — they must pretend that the US is being governed by a usurper and behave accordingly. Every policy, every initiative, no matter how benign or beneficial, will be weighed not on its benefits not to the United States or its people, but on how GOP Congressional Members and Senators think Trump supporters might think when comes the next primary.

          Finally, a precedent is being created. Should California sue Texas in 2024 if that state thinks Texas practices voter suppression? Should New York sue Florida over questionable claims of limiting the rights of minority voters to freely cast a ballot?

          This entire farce will only further divide our nation, reduce any chance of compromise, and make more difficult any chance of positively governing America, regardless of whichever party controls the White House after Biden.

          1. The “damage to the country” horse left the barn a long time ago. So any caterwauling by the left, especially for what they’ve put the country through for the last 4 years, is going to be addressed on merits deserved, which is zero.

            1. Pointing elsewhere does not justify the crap happening right now.

            2. Working within Constitutional limits is not “damage to the country,” even when it disagrees with you, and “but the left” does not justify the unjustifiable. Disagreeing with Trump’s agenda is within the bounds of legitimate political conduct; attempting to subvert our democracy and render void the votes of 71-million American is not.

              I do agree, however, that “addressed on merits deserved, which is zero” is applicable to this performative lawsuit.

              Those Republican perpetrating this attempted fraud will not be remembered kindly in the history books.

            3. Oh yeah, beyond your “but the left ” opinion, you also failed to address any of the issues I listed:

              1) political violence — some Trump supports believing GOP claims of stolen election are already threatening violence

              2) ideological inflexibility — many Republicans will not publicly reject such absurd claims as “Democratic leaders eat infants” or the Clintons are astonishingly skilled assassins who have murdered hundreds without leaving a shred of actionable evidence

              3) weakening American political institutions — what if other states follow similar tactics every time their favored politician loses an election

      2. We are weeks past legitimate lawsuits, if there ever were any
        IF fraud was going to come to light it would have by now,

        You mean like Hunter Biden’s tax fraud investigation should’ve “come to light” before the election….

        1. I am sure you care about hunter biden, and would have loved another circus like the fake email distraction of 2016 but it didn’t happen

          sorry

        2. “You mean like Hunter Biden’s tax fraud investigation should’ve “come to light” before the election….”

          No. That’s the argument of a dipshit who wants the DOJ to deliberately attempt to sway an election with a red herring.

          1. Imagine Donald Trump Jr. being accused of the same thing. Now tell me the DOJ and the media would have been just as quiet. Then when you’re done with that, pull the other one.

            1. You realize that Trump’s own campaign was under federal investigation during the 2016 election for its contacts with Russian intelligence, but it wasn’t revealed until after the election, even as Hillary’s emails were plastered all over the front page, right?

              1. “Trump’s own campaign was under federal investigation during the 2016 election”

                Like that was a good thing?

                Ruling party uses internal security agency to spy on the opposition using the pretext of “national security”. Just like Russia, no?

                “it wasn’t revealed until after the election”

                Because it might have boomeranged on them.

                1. It has nothing to do with being a good or a bad thing. I Callahan’s “Imagine if” posits a scenario that’s contradicted by a directly on-point example.

            2. Imagine if hypothetical bullshit was useful as a legitimate argument.

              Then shut the fuck up.

      3. Oh, you mean like keeping poll watchers out of the polls? Putting up barriers to shield the democrat “vote counters” from public view? Like ejecting poll watchers or telling them that “vote counting is over for tonite” and then continuing once they and the TV’s leave? Or do you not believe the VIDEOS DOCUMENTING those and other events? Like the sudden injection of 300,000 votes for Biden in the middle of the nite? Yah, that’s not “evidence’ in the eyes of Trumphaters. Anything to get rid of orangemanbad, Right? At keast this time the fascists didn’t burn down the Capitol to blame it on the Republicans.

        1. All of this was litigated before Republicans and Republican-appointed judges and all of it failed for lack of actual evidence.

          What you are describing is nothing but a barrel of conspiracy monkeys masquerading as Real News ™.

          1. All of it failed for lack of caring about the evidence. The poll watchers AND news people both testified that they’d been told to go home, counting was over. The election workers testified that they’d said no such thing, and didn’t understand why the observers left.

            The judge decided to believe the latter, not the former, but that doesn’t make the observers’ testimony cease to exist.

            1. “All of it failed for lack of caring about the evidence.”

              False. It failed because the evidence was not credible. Your logical leaps are getting more desperate.

              1. Why weren’t they credible?

                1. Why don’t you ask the dozens of judges which threw out the lawsuits? I suspect that their decisions cover this point.

                  Maybe at bedtime someone can read them to you.

            2. They turned out not to be credible, Brett, or did you not see the nonsense hearing?

        2. maybe, except it didn’t happen except on foxnews

        3. There are nonzero problems with your assertions.

    2. I’ll add that filing a lawsuit, or supporting a filed lawsuit, can *never* be “rushing to throw over constitutional and democratic principles”.

      Indeed, it’s the precise opposite of that. Trying to have your grievances addressed through the legal system is supportive of our “constitutional and democratic principles”.

      1. Right. “Rushing to throw over constitutional and democratic principles” would be something like having the military arrest Biden, and then declaring the election void.

        Suing in court IS the Constitutional process.

        1. using the power of the office to coerce state officials is not

          it is corrupt

          1. It would be if it happened. Now show that it happened.

            1. Calling state elections officers for one, it happened
              How about you prove fraud?

              can’t?

              suck it up

              1. A phone call is “using the power of the office”? What power, that he has a phone?

                1. Members of the seditious cult will pretend that nothing at all, ever, is abuse of power.

                  Because the losing President abusing election officials, bringing some to the White House, and brow-beating them to give him the election that he lost is perfectly ok.

                  Or is this the one time in the history of Trump’s life that he isn’t attempting to bully someone into giving him what he wants?

                2. Oh really, trying to get a minor party functionary to not certify legal election results is not using the power of his office?

                  You have lowered the bar for acceptable behavior to a ridiculous level

                  1. Unless said functionary works for him, or he bribes said functionary by offering him something within his power, no, it’s not using the power of his office.

                    The influence, maybe. Not the power.

                    1. At what point do your “potato, potahto” arguments become actionably studpid?

                    2. The influence, but not the power? Come off it, Brett, that’s lame as hell.

        2. Impeachment and removal is a constitutional process, specifically designed to remove a President from office for his conduct during office, and yet we heard nothing but cries that it was actually an attempt to undo an election.

      2. Honestly, the lawsuit is rushing to try to get others to overthrow constitutional and democratic principles

        The fact that one is asking makes them garbage

      3. When is a lawsuit not just a lawsuit? When 17 Attorney’s General and nearly half of Congressional Republicans lend their authority as elected leaders to the claims in the lawsuit that suggest the election was not legitimate. When these legal professionals say that the incoming president-elect is a fraud and should be prevented from taking office, that’s a problem. To assume that citizens who voted for and respect these politicians as a trustworthy authority won’t take action on this is irresponsible. There are already armed groups of men harassing and threatening both Democratic and Republican elected officials in the four states over this. Lending your name to the lawsuit creates support for more of this sort of direct action by angry Trump voters. In Arizona, the GOP retweeted and supported a tweet from a Trump voter willing to give their life for this cause and asking others if they would be willing too.

        This isn’t just a lawsuit if it is used to justify violence.

    3. ‘the president has the right to pursue his legal remedies’

      How many times does he get to make the same BS arguments in pursuit of his legal remedies? Does he just get to go on and on, presenting the same refuted facts and nonsensical affidavits to court after court?

      1. “Does he just get to go on and on, presenting the same refuted facts and nonsensical affidavits to court after court?”

        Why not? How does it hurt you.

        1. It destroys my country, so there is that

          1. Another hysterical person.

            1. The President spreading unfounded distrust of our fundamental system of governance isn’t harmful?

              Fuck off.

              1. Do you always have to be such an asshole? The left has a lot of gall complaining about spreading unfounded distrust of elections when they spent 4 straight years lying about Russian collusion. Fuck off yourself, sideways with a pitchfork.

                1. You run on spite, got it. Libs bad justifies the means.

                  We don’t work like that, we just want this to stop.

                  1. “We don’t work like that”

                    Gaslito strikes again!

                2. I am not ‘the left.’ I am not even a ‘liberal.’ I’ve been registered as unaffiliated my entire life, and have views on both sides of the political spectrum which typically has resulted in my splitting of my ballots over the years.

                  As long as twats continue to support the subversion of our country’s system of governance by a criminal President who claims to be above the law, I’ll continue to treat those people as they deserve. If you consider that being an asshole, then it’s a badge I’m proud to wear.

                  You people are dangerous to this country, and don’t deserve to be coddled. You barely deserve to be acknowledged as existing.

                3. Except that there was Russian collusion. Read the Mueller report. Read the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

            2. MASSIVE FRAUD
              STOLEN ELECTION

              but I am hysterical

              Yeah

    4. so what do I know.

      Not a lot, it appears.

  4. This is a disturbing development and a further sign that the Republican Party will not soon return to its traditional principles but will remain deeply influenced by Trump’s particular populist style of politics.

    That seems beside the point. The point is that this is corrupt fund raising, pure and simple. The Republican office holders piling on just hope they can get in on the con—maybe get a bit from Trump, maybe raise some on their own. They all know this is likely to be the last big payday from Trumpism, and they don’t want to miss it.

    What that tells us about the poor suckers who think they are backing Trump in good faith is too depressing to contemplate.

    1. Don’t forget the benefit of getting yourself in the queue for pardons.

      1. I’m waiting to see if the people who tried to broker the sale of a pardon end up getting one themselves. Word is, Trump’s gonna hand them out like candy on Halloween….

        1. I think that you have a typo – “candy on Halloween” -> Bill Clinton. Or even Obama.

    2. Why bother to pretend to have principles? The Democrats don’t, and look where it’s gotten them.

      1. Do strawmen ever have principles?

  5. “Michigan also admits that it “is at a loss to explain
    the allegations” showing that Wayne County lists
    174,384 absentee ballots that do not tie to a registered
    voter.”

    1. ‘is at a loss to explain allegations’ is a meaningless statement

      I am sure Darth Chocolate is at a loss to explain allegations of child porn on his computer……you see how that works?

      1. Thanks for proving the exact point those of us on the right have been making: you people completely ignore what’s right in front of you because it doesn’t fit a narrative. Have the balls to address the number stated above. If you have some credible evidence it’s incorrect, I’m all ears.

        1. No, it doesn’t work that way. You have to prove your allegations. Nobody has to disprove them.

    2. Except that Michigan didn’t admit anything. What Michigan did do is look at the claim in the Texas filing and say, “WTF does this even mean?”

  6. When the states in question violated their own laws in regards to the election, repeatedly, in the run up to, and after the election…

    This was a guaranteed result.

    1. They did not and if they had, many states trumpski won also did the same

      1. Harris County, Texas – a county bigger in size and population than the state of Rhode Island – made one ballot drop-off location available for one 12-hour period. If that’s not a constitutional violation, I don’t know what is. Democrats should sue Texas and seek to get Texas called for Biden.

        Or maybe once Democrats get control of states they can follow Texas’s example. If one ballot box location in the entire state of Rhode Island sounds reasonable to Republicans, I’m sure they’d have no problem if the entire state of Georgia just made one ballot box location available in downtown Atlanta.

        1. “If that’s not a constitutional violation, I don’t know what is.”

          Then you don’t know what is. The only thing that’s constitutionally required is in person voting, on election day. All these drop offs, all this early voting, all the absentee and mail in voting?

          Constitutionally optional.

          And the drop off locations weren’t even statutorily required! As the court reviewing the order noted, it would have been consistent with Texas election law to have had none at all.

    2. The result is that the clingers will get humiliated in courtrooms from one corner of our nation to another other. They will huff and puff and mutter and sputter about it in militia meetings, at Federalist Society conferences, in private homes, at Republican Committee meetings.

      Then, they will comply, continuing to be vanquished in the American culture war.

    3. Wait, what happened to the whole “massive fraud” thingy?

  7. There’s just one reasonable response here.

    1. Joe and Kamala step down
    2. A Unity ticket of Condoleezza Rice and Joe Manchin take over as President and Vice President

    1. When consequential Americans want your opinion, they will be delusional. The only thing required of you is compliance with the preferences of better Americans.

    2. 🙂

      People can’t even imagine the consequences of a national trucker’s strike — the last one was in the 1970’s when rail was still a viable option — it isn’t now.

      1. At least this fantasy doesn’t involve you people committing acts of genocide, but why the hell would there be a trucker’s strike?

  8. Are you really sure it’s not people who don’t actually care for Trump, but who see their own political lives in the crosshairs if it isn’t established that election laws are actually binding?

    You might find this challenge dangerous, but I find the attitude so many states and localities took towards election laws this year pretty dangerous, too. Are they laws, or are they suggestions?

    That needs to be settled.

    1. Suggestions. You missed the “but, Covid” clause in the Constitution.

    2. So the reason Ken Paxton, attorney general of a state where executive branch officials made changes to voting rules in the run-up to the election, sued Pennsylvania on the ground that executive branch officials made changes to voting rules in the run-up to the election, and requested that the U.S. Supreme Court throw out the results of Pennsylvania’s election entirely and direct Pennsylvania’s legislature to appoint its own slate of electors notwithstanding that there’s no provision in Pennsylvania law permitting them to do so, is because he’s so adamant that election laws must be actually binding?

      1. Hey. Makes sense to me. Isn’t Paxton the guy who tried the “one dropbox per county” rule?

        Somehow I don’t think the democratic legitimacy of elections is a big issue to him.

        1. “Wasn’t Paxton the guy who tried the one drop box per county rule”?

          No, he wasn’t.

    3. “Are they laws, or are they suggestions?”

      I could ask you the same about standing, mootness, laches, standards for injunctive relief, federalism, Rule 11, taking away someone’s right to vote, etc. The filers of these suits and their amici appear to believe they are.

      In fact I have asked. You never have an answer.

  9. PA Sec of State says filing a lawsuit is, get this, ‘sedition’.

    What’s dangerous? Throwing around charges of sedition. Wanting people jailed, literally, for being involved in a suit against the government.

    Die, Reason.

    1. It is asking someone to overthrow a popular election result

      With no evidence

      Because, uhh we lost

      yeah I’ll go with an attempt to overthrow the government

    2. It’s almost like “Lock Her Up” didn’t happen.

      1. No it’s exactly like it didn’t happen.

    3. PA’s response pretty well shreds the complaint.

    4. The guy they are trying to install as “president” is known to be very keen on wanting people jailed for being against his government…

  10. This is who they are, Prof. Whittington.

    I gather you were not raised in our can’t-keep-up backwaters.

    They are half-educated; they prefer backwater religious schooling and downscale homeschooling to strong educational institutions.

    They are bigots, hostile to gays, Blacks, women, immigrants, Muslims . . . the political and natural descendants of those who went after Italians, Jews, Asians, Catholics, the Irish, Hispanics, women, gays, Blacks, other Asians, other Hispanics and others over centuries of ignorance and intolerance related to skin color, nationality, immigration, perceived economic pressure, religion, and just low character.

    They are superstitious and, relatedly, gullible. They are disaffected and anti-social. They resent authority, credentials, education, and expertise. They disdain science, modernity, reason, and progress.

    You can’t reason with bigotry, superstition, or belligerent ignorance. It is pointless to try. It is immoral to appease these losers. It is very sketchy to associate with them.

    This is no rogue, unpredictable development. The Republicans, movement conservatives, Federalist Society, and religious right have been headed in this direction for years.

    1. Goodam Kirkland. You might well be the worst bigot in the USA.

      You just wrote several paragraphs filled with made-up stereotypes about a big group of people about whom you have zero direct knowledge. Hell, you don’t even know the names of both of them.

      They may not be good people, but you’re sitting in a glass house throwing stones.

      1. Hey hey, there are good people on both sides!

        That’s an excuse, right?

        Meh, even for me AK’ generalizations are over the top. But he’s not excusing racism, endorsing violence, and suggesting murder….

    2. Yep, Kirkland — and we’ve got pitchforks and we’re gonna send the lawyers down to clean the sewers.

  11. But 4 years of pretend Russian Conspiracy and “Trump is Putin’s Puppet” that was A-OK?

    God forbid we want honest elections in this country. We should just accept whoever the elites tell us one.

    When (not really ‘If’ at this point) this fraud is endorsed we can give up having free elections in this country ever again.

    1. Stand aside and let the adults handle this.

      That is not a rhetorical point. It is a directive with which you will comply.

      You get to mutter and sputter about it as much as you want, though.

      1. You’re the last person who should be talking about who’s an adult and who isn’t…

  12. “a further sign that the Republican Party will not soon return to its traditional principles but will remain deeply influenced by Trump’s particular populist style of politics”

    No shit, Sherlock….

    Much as the New Deal changed the Democratic Party, MAGA has changed the Republican Party. This started a decade ago with the Tea Party and the party is not going back to what it once was.

    1. Dr. Ed 2 : MAGA has changed the Republican Party.

      You really think that? Let me point out an inconvenient fact : There is no “MAGA” in any substantive terms. It’s the vaudeville act of a conman huckster. Unless the GOP has a long line of scam artists waiting in the wings, MAGA will whither & die.

      People didn’t worship the day-glo orange Deity because of his positions or actions, but for the entertainment return from President Troll. Lies & buffoonery were a feature, not a bug. That won’t translate well to a more competent politician.

      1. Study the Granger Movement to understand populism.

        1. Hermione seemed kind of elitist to me.

            1. Your fantasies of rural direct action will not save you.

              It’s just the latest in the long series of your the next big thing that’ll come down the road and sweep away all who disagree with you.

              America will keep on being America, and you will keep on living in frustration and delusion.

  13. There was no fraud, trumpski is the only fraud

    please provide proof not covered in drool

  14. Now do Iowa’s 2nd district.

  15. 1 – Their willingness to follow Trump down this rabbit whole instead of realizing “Hey, he’s not going to be president in a few weeks, we don’t have to put up with him any more” is a damning condemnation of the party.
    2 – This puts the lie to the claims of a lot of Republicans who said they only cared about the court picks.
    3 – I’m an independent who has voted mostly for Republicans in state and Congressional races and Libertarians for president. But any legislators supporting this nonsense don’t have my vote anymore.

    1. In about 6 weeks he won’t be President, but the 97% of Republicans who support him will still be voters these folks need in order to matter.

      1. So those voters are suddenly going to vote Democratic?
        Or how much whack job to the right can a primary challenge get?
        When they require you sign over your soul for the job. maybe look for a different one

        1. Most of these guys have sublet their souls to the point where they wouldn’t even know where to look for it if they DID want it back.

          The GOP establishment hoped that, if Trump lost, he’d lose his grip on the party, and things could go back to normal, graft and playing bait and switch cons on the voters. Doesn’t look like their hope materialized. It’s still Trump’s party, and they’re just living in it. So they have to try to humor the base while hoping like hell these lawsuits don’t actually work.

          Still, that’s not to say that a few of them might actually believe that the principle that election laws are laws isn’t important enough to fight for.

          Well, I’ve been saying pretty much all along that I don’t expect these lawsuits to win, because the judiciary just don’t CARE if election laws were violated. Not so long as the violation was signed off on by somebody important. Certainly they don’t care enough to be willing to be subject to the nuclear war level political heat they’d experience if they actually ruled in Trump’s favor. You will NOT find 5 members of the Supreme court willing to spend the rest of their lives in the witness protection program. Even Thomas would probably shrink from THAT.

          So, the dumpster fire election will probably get the Supreme court’s tacit endorsement, and all our elections going forward will be dumpster fires.

          1. No the election was not a dumpster fire, and while you repeat rhetoric, you do not support it with facts, the kind of things that judges use to make decisions

            1. He’s been supporting with facts for weeks. The fact that you disagree with him doesn’t change that. And the fact that courts don’t agree with him doesn’t change that either.

              I’m really starting to understand why Shakespeare disliked lawyers so much…

              1. He tries to make a legal argument that has been explained by just about every lawyer here as a fundamental misunderstanding of how separation of powers works.

                He brings no facts.

                Neither do you – just yell about how evil liberals are, which justifies any evil you wish to rationalize.

                You’re like a badly written scenery-chewing villain in some crap political pulp at this point.

    2. “But any legislators supporting this nonsense don’t have my vote anymore.”

      Did anyone in your district join the amicus brief?

      “Libertarians for president.”

      A non serious person.

  16. we should take note of why elected Republicans feel the need to posture in this way. They are doing so because they believe it is a popular position among their constituents that the election was stolen, that Joe Biden’s presidency would be illegitimate,

    But this is a vicious circle. One reason lots of the constituents believe this is that their elected Republican officials keep telling them it’s true. If those officials stopped lying, and told the truth then the belief would die down somewhat.

    It is their own irresponsibility and cowardice that is stoking the flame they fear.

    1. They created the beast and now they are obliged to keep it fed if they wish to continue controlling it.

      When I was kid, I used to naively wonder how an entire country could let a fascist use the democratic process to take control and participate in the largest known genocide in history with millions supporting him the entire time. That, I thought, could never happen here in the United States. How could the people in so-called “banana republics” keep voting for despots? Don’t they know better? They get taken for a ride by political criminals time and again; you’d think they’d learn? Well, American “exceptionalism” died for me when Trump won in 2016 and I’ve learned the answers to my questions these past four years. Let’s hope the lesson ends soon while there is still an America I recognize.

  17. “the suit has no chance of success…I have joined an amicus brief in opposition”

    Does that mean you’re covering all bases?

    “voters with authoritarian preferences have particularly favored Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency”

    One of the linked articles is from 2016, before many opponents of Trump began using illegal violence to get their way politically…if that’s not authoritarian, the term is fairly useless.

  18. How do coups happen?

    You are watching an attempt at a coup.

    You are saying over and over, he is within his legal rights, well, until he isn’t

    And then you will say, well, the liberals should not have been so liberal

    You really think trump, with this kind of support, is beyond declaring his New Fascist Republic?

    that is why it is harmful

    it is unAmerican, undemocratic

    1. What? Suing people is the American way, don’t you know?

    2. Such nonsense. The only thing approaching a coup in the last several years was the FBI and Democratic party trying to prevent Trump from winning, and later trying to oust him, by unlawful means.

      1. Sorry, Publius, but the FBI, in the person of James Comey, did a lot to help Trump win in 2016, not to prevent him from doing so.

        What is unlawful about an impeachment proceeding?

        1. Pfft. He was assigned the task of white washing Clinton, and couldn’t bring himself to do a thorough job of it. He tried to split the difference between publicly announcing that she’d done nothing wrong, and recommending that she be prosecuted: He made it clear that she’d broken the law, and then recommended not prosecuting.

          Sure, that helped Trump. Relative to a complete white wash. Just doing his job would have helped Trump a lot more.

  19. Can’t wait for this to inevitably be ignored by the Court! It’s great to see trump losing over and over again…

  20. I remember how Democrats reacted to the Election of 2016. Republicans should imitate their grace and their good sportsmanship, in 2020.

    1. Yes they should

      Clinton conceded election night

      too late now I guess, better go with the coup

  21. Regardless of all the empty rhetoric from Adler, Whittington, et.al., it all boils down to this:

    “Defendant States do not seriously address grave issues that Texas raises, choosing to hide behind other court venues and decisions in which Texas could not participate and to mischaracterize both the relief that Texas seeks and the justification for that relief,” the Texas brief says of the opposition briefs filed by Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia Thursday.”

    “”Defendant States do not credibly dispute either that they changed election statutes via non-legislative means or that the Electors Clause preempts such changes.”

    Texas continues: “An injunction should issue because Defendant States have not—and cannot—defend their actions.”

    1. repeating a bunch of hooey does not make it true

      Texas raises no issues of fact, so addressing them woudl be difficult

      please, evidence of fraud?

      No

      I thought not

      1. Did Pennsylvania change voting rules in a manner contrary to their constitution and law, or not?

        1. You sue before the election
          unless you don’t like the election

          Overturning hundreds of thousands of good faith votes is not an appropriate solution

          The PA Supreme court does not seem to think there was a problem, but I suppose you are more qualified

          1. Thanks for not answering the question. Again. I’ll try myself: Did Pennsylvania change voting rules in a manner contrary to their constitution and law, or not? It’s a simple yes or no answer.

            1. Thanks for not answering the question. Again. I’ll try myself: Did Pennsylvania change voting rules in a manner contrary to their constitution and law, or not? It’s a simple yes or no answer.

              No, it did not.

        2. Did Pennsylvania change voting rules in a manner contrary to their constitution and law, or not?

          They did not.

          You know how I know? Because the entity that determines what Pennsylvania law actually is said so.

    2. The fact that other courts have already reviewed and dispatched the same claims that Texas is making does not mean that Pennsylvania is hiding or that Texas is the unfortunate victim of defensive collateral estoppel. It means that Pennsylvania is correctly pointing out that Texas is an irrelevant third party making claims that were already pursued by parties with standing and found to be without merit.

  22. It would be nice if this happened every time we get a political circus.

    Remember back in the middle of the beginning of the pandemic when the Left wiped everyone into a frenzy after a drug crazed man in Minneapolis died while police tried to corral his drug fueled behavior? That was simply irresponsible and predicated on a false premise resulting in mass gatherings that most likely became spreader events. Plus the completely unnecessary violence that resulted from that whole thing.

    Nothing back them from the media and anyone who expressed a concern was denounced as a racist or something else. But, now, we are all supposed to realize the circus like atmosphere and act accordingly. And, some people are wondering why others are not hoping on the bandwagon…

    1. Jimmy the Dane : “….predicated on a false premise….”

      People saw the cop with his knee on a dying man’s neck. It was a with-my-own-eyes kinda of thing. They were simply less willing to make excuses than you.

      1. It was all predicated by the lie that our society is inherently racist. There is tons of evidence to prove this false. Just like there is tons of evidence to suggest there was not widespread voter fraud.

        The difference here is we are supposed to look at that evidence, when with the unnecessary upheaval this Spring the media threw fuel on the fire.

        1. 70 million people voted for a proud racist, with a bunch of white nationalists in his administration

          so, yeah, about that….

          1. And this goes to reinforce my point. You have a political tactic and then the other side says, “hey I can do that too!” And then they do. And, poof, now you have a burgeoning secession movement and a whole segment of people that think it is the other side just being stupid idiots (which I’m not saying objectively it isn’t dumb, just like getting useful idiots to pull down monuments is also stupidity in the works).

            So yeah congrats everyone for getting us here. Nothing we can do about it now. Just pull you a seat and get the popcorn ready because the fun is only about to start.

            1. Ah, yeah my fault trumpski is a racist

              nice try

              1. Calling people unnecessary incendiary labels is definitely part of the problem….

                1. except when they actually use racism to win an election

                  There are racists out there, trump is one of them, he hires them, supports them.
                  At some point the evidence is there, it isn’t jsut name calling

                  And the man has a 200 word vocabulary, not that I have respect for people who make me look up words, but the man IS a moron, so calling him one is not in fact an insult, well, not to him, but to morons maybe

                  1. when in a hole, keep digging is definitely a legit rhetorical tactic, but here it really is not helping you. Do you want to throw out any more false negative stereotypes or are you good now?

                    1. Flase how?

                      I think it is you who are digging

                      Keep digging, when you get to China see if trump is president there

  23. This is the guy these Republicans supported — the guy who even in 2016 did not understand how the Constitution works — who thought that judges “sign bills” and that Congressmen who criticize him are “committing treason”. They are being enablers just as they have always been.

  24. I used to think that most readers of this blog have law degrees. But now I’m not so sure because even the worst lawyers I’ve encountered in my forty years are not stupid enough to believe that the election was stolen from Trump. But here are many VC regulars still clinging to the obviously false assertion that somehow the election was rigged so that Biden got seven million more votes than Trump. And, of course, if you believe the election was rigged, it necessarily follows that you believe that the fix was in when all those Republican judges laughed the Trump lawsuits out of court. You lost! More than eighty million people recognized Trump as being the worst, most unqualified, and most dangerous president in history, and they exercised their right to vote against him. Grow up and get over it!

    1. “I used to think that most readers of this blog have law degrees.”

      Where in the world did you get that idea? I think maybe 1 in 50, tops.

  25. I agree with the author of the post that there is some bad lawyering in the case; however, I’m far from convinced that all or most of it is on the Plaintiff’s side.

    1. So, let us just pretend there was bad lawyering passing and administering PA election law, it was done and obvious to the plaintiffs before the election, they could have sued then and a the very least gotten rules changed.

      After losing, I think not

      You buy a house and after closing decide that you were mistaken about the quality of the school district, do you sue then?
      Maybe, but you get laughed at

  26. Imagine, for a second, that in a state with a 40K vote margin of victory, it is shown with a preponderance of evidence that 100K votes were illegally cast—they were simply printed up outside the normal voting process and stuffed into ballot boxes, commingled with legitimate ballots.

    What should happen in that instance? Kicking the selection of electors to the legislature or even barring electors from that state does not disenfranchise the voters of that state—that disenfranchisement was done by the people in power in that state that permitted (allowed, failed to stop… how ever you want to describe rank failure of their job) the fraud. It would be unthinkable to simply allows the illegal votes to stand and infringe on the other states that ran their elections properly.

    1. OF course, but there is this thing called proof, and for over a month there has been a whole tom of hot air, but zero proof.

      And yes, in a legal, government system, sometimes bad things happen, like a president elected who lost the popular vote, but you move forward.

      SO, in order to sooth your feelings of an unfair election, we need not stop the whole thing until you feel better about it. There is a process.

      1. Yeah because everything the Left has accosted the public with is exceptionally fact based. Like “Me Too” and its bucket full of fake allegations. Or the drumbeat that America is an evil racist nation because of slavery, something that ended 150 years ago. No wonder a good chunk of the country is going to believe something without a factual basis. The Left “normed” this a while ago…

        1. Did you have a point, or proof of fraud?
          I thought not

    2. That “imagine,” of course, is doing a whole lot of work in your post.

      Meanwhile, if we put our imaginations away and focus on what’s actually happened, courts have actually reviewed Trump’s and his allies’ claims, and have found nothing but “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence.”

      So setting aside what would happen in _that_ instance, what should happen in _this_ instance?

    3. It would be unthinkable to simply allows the illegal votes to stand and infringe on the other states that ran their elections properly.

      The first part of that sentence might be true. The second part is completely wrong. Texas’s interests are not “infringed” by Pennsylvania votes.

  27. It’s untrue that Texas is requesting an extraordinary remedy that would have the effect of overturning the results of a presidential election. They want the legislatures of 4 states to select electors. If those legislatures believe the election in their state was legitimate, they’ll ratify rather than reject those results.

    1. wrong

      the legislatures previously decided a method for selecting electors

      overriding that would be extraordinary

      and the Supremes just said

      NO

Please to post comments