On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Republican challenges to the 2020 presidential election outcome in Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden was victorious. Republicans have challenged the extension of the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots for counting in the state, but none of these challenges have produced a change in the election outcome. At issue for Republicans was the fact that the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court originally ordered the deadline extension, and Republicans alleged that their intervention in the process was inappropriate because of a supposed Constitutional requirement for election-related policy-making to be left to formal state legislative bodies, meaning the legislatures.
In reality, as the Republicans’ opponents have noted, there’s another clear explanation for the Constitutional provision referenced by the GOP challenges. In short, the Constitution leaves election administration in individual states to whatever authorities handle the law in respective states rather than solely formal state legislative bodies. According to the right-wing theory that legislatures should have wide discretion in the administration of elections, what role would courts and the executive branch even have in the process? The basic foundation of the U.S. system of governance is a separation of powers, but Republicans seemed interested in getting powers concentrated under the purview of sympathetic state legislators.
In the Pennsylvania case, three conservative justices, including one of Trump’s appointees, said that they would have heard the case, but they added that the case was not poised to have an actual impact on the outcome of the 2020 election. Instead, as conservative Justice Samuel Alito put it, the case could have provided “invaluable guidance for future elections.” Other justices who supported hearing the case included Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, the latter of whom is a Trump appointee. Trump’s other two appointees, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, didn’t sign on to comments from Alito and Thomas.
Like every other court that considered an election-related case, the Supreme Court has never accepted the idea that the 2020 presidential election outcome was tainted and should be set aside. In perhaps the most high-profile example of the Supreme Court’s part in the post-election court fight, they rejected a case in which Texas and allies including the Trump team itself sought the invalidation of Biden’s victories in four key states. They refused to even hear the case, and the two justices who dissented and said that they’d have heard the case said that they would not have granted the invalidations that plaintiffs sought.
Recently, Trump publicly reiterated his delusional belief that he was the rightful winner of the 2020 election, and he might do so yet again in coming days when he speaks at this year’s edition of the Conservative Political Action Conference. At this point, believing that Trump was the rightful winner of the election would likely demand a belief in a wildly huge level of conspiracy within the federal government, since literally the entirety of the presidential transition process has long since played out.
The dangerous ridiculousness of the underlying idea is not stopping Trump as he barges ahead with this nonsense.