A Trump Appointee Rejects Election Complaints Similar to the Ones SCOTUS Declined to Hear
President Donald Trump thinks the Supreme Court “chickened out” when it declined to hear Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit seeking to overturn the election results in four battleground states. “The fact that the Supreme Court wouldn’t find standing in an original jurisdiction matter between multiple states, and including the President of the States, is absurd,” Trump says on Twitter, suggesting that the justices simply “didn’t want to rule on the merits of the case.”
One problem with this gloss is that the question of whether Texas has standing to sue other states because it does not like their election procedures was crucial to Paxton’s case—a threshold issue that had to be resolved lest the Court overstep its authority to rule on genuine “cases or controversies.” The justices said they were denying Paxton’s request to file a bill of complaint because “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”
In a separate statement, Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas said they thought the Court, under its original jurisdiction in cases involving disputes between states, was obliged to let Paxton file his bill of complaint. But they agreed that no “other relief” was appropriate.
Even if Texas could have established standing, that hardly means the Court would have been receptive to Paxton’s claims. In a decision published the day after the justices declined to hear the Texas case, a Trump-nominated federal judge in Wisconsin ruled on the merits of arguments similar to Paxton’s and concluded that they “fail as a matter of law and fact.”
Wisconsin was one of the states that Paxton sued, along with Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan. Paxton objected to Wisconsin’s use of drop boxes for absentee ballots, its policy regarding deficiencies in address information for absentee ballot witnesses, and its determination that people at high risk from COVID-19 counted as “indefinitely confined voters,” meaning they did not have to submit copies of their IDs when they applied for absentee ballots. Trump complained about these same features of Wisconsin’s election rules in a separate federal lawsuit he filed on December 1, nearly a month after the election.
In Saturday’s decision, U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig, who was appointed by Trump this year, concludes that the president has standing to sue as a candidate in the election—which is quite different from the question of whether a state such as Texas could sue based on the same alleged deficiencies. Although Trump tried to intervene in Paxton’s lawsuit, he was not a plaintiff.
After hearing arguments from both sides of the case, Ludwig rejected Trump’s claim that Wisconsin’s rules violated the Constitution’s Electors Clause, which says “each State shall appoint” presidential electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” The “manner” chosen by Wisconsin’s legislature, Ludwig notes, is “by general ballot at the general election.” Trump, by contrast, wanted Ludwi
Article from Latest – Reason.com