The U.S. Supreme Court, where three appointees of ex-President Donald Trump currently serve, has now ordered an end to what voting rights lawyer Marc Elias describes as the final Trump and GOP-aligned post-2020 election lawsuit over the results and voting process. In short, Elias explains, Republicans who were still pushing the case “had wanted the Court to review the elections/electors clause issue going into 2022,” but the Supreme Court has now directed the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the case as moot. The election is long over.
🚨BREAKING: Supreme Court closes the door on the last Trump/GOP post-election lawsuit. Court orders the 3rd Circuit to dismiss case PA lawsuit as moot.
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) April 19, 2021
The electors clause has figured into past Republican court fights against the presidential election outcome. The clause, which appears in Article 2 and Section 1 of the Constitution, stipulates that “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors” to handle the presidential race, and it goes on from there with further clarification.
The key part that Republicans have spotlighted is the mandate for the “Legislature” to set the parameters for the voting process, and some GOP’ers have claimed that in states like Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court set some guidelines for the process, authorities overstepped Constitutional bounds and meddled in something that should have been left to state legislators. To be clear, there is no claim of outright fraud inherent in this argument — even if voting process guidelines were unconstitutional, if voters cast duly documented ballots according to those guidelines, they committed no fraud.
The foundational argument is faulty, as a coalition of state Attorney Generals have previously explained. The mandate for state legislatures to handle setting up the voting process doesn’t restrict authorities outside of formal legislative bodies from being involved. Instead, the point of the original provision is that whoever is in charge of handling public policy in respective states should handle establishing the electoral process parameters. If that’s the state Supreme Court, a Secretary of State, or another official, then so be it.
What role would there even be for the generally accepted principle of separation of powers within the Republican vision of confining electoral policy-making to formal state legislative bodies? Republicans would have GOP state officials have almost free rein over the electoral process, apparently.