WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a long-shot bid by President Donald Trump and the state of Texas to overturn the results in four states won by Democrat Joe Biden, blocking the president’s legal path to reverse his reelection loss.
The court’s unsigned order was short: “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”
Justices Samuel Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas, as they have in the past, said they did not believe the court had the authority to simply reject Texas’s request. “I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue,” they said.
Trump, who has appointed three of the court’s nine members, has long viewed the Supreme Court as something of an ace-in-the-hole and called for the justices to display “courage” and aid him in post-election litigation.
After Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September, the president said filling the seat was essential because of the possibility of litigation that might otherwise end in a tie. Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed in a party-line vote by the Republican-controlled Senate to replace Ginsburg.
In a case earlier this week, the court turned down a request from Republican congressional candidates to overturn the results in Pennsylvania in a one-sentence order. Barrett took part in the case, but neither she nor fellow Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch or Brett Kavanaugh noted their objection.
Trump has refused to accept defeat, instead embarking on a campaign to discredit the election. He has made charges of corruption and a rigged election in states he lost and claims of illegal voting, votes switched by computer software and rampant fraud.
None have come close to being proven, and Attorney General William Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents running down specific complaints and information “have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
Legal efforts by Trump and his allies filed in states he lost have been unsuccessful — one win compared to more than 50 losses in state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels.
The election results have been certified in each state, and the Electoral College is scheduled to meet Monday. Biden has 306 electoral votes, exactly the number Trump had when he was elected in 2016. But while Trump lost the popular vote then, Biden has a margin of more than 7 million votes.
Texas, led by Trump ally Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, tried to maneuver around the lower court losses by filing directly with the Supreme Court. States suing other states are allowed to ask the court to take up the case, although the court sometimes does not grant permission.
Trump tweeted that it was the “big one” that “everyone has been waiting for.”
Texas charged that actions by state officials in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin violated the U.S. Constitution and diluted the impact of Texas voters.
Its major complaint was that government officials and courts in those states had changed election procedures to make it easier to vote by mail and other methods. It said that violated the Constitution’s direction that “the legislature” of each state set voting procedures.
It asked the justices to block those states from casting their combined 62 electoral votes for Biden and order the legislatures, all Republican-controlled, to appoint either new electors or none at all. That would require the court to set aside the results in those states, which Biden won by a combined 300,000 votes.
Trump asked to intervene in the lawsuit and 17 attorneys general from states where Trump won, including West Virginia, joined in — even when their own states had voting procedures altered by state officials or courts. A majority of U.S. House Republicans urged the Supreme Court to take the case.
The targeted states responded in blistering briefs, with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, calling the Texas lawsuit a “seditious abuse of the judicial process.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Joshua Kaul, a Democrat, said agreeing to the Texas request would thrust the court into the political sphere in a way never imagined.
“If Texas’s theory of injury were accepted , it would be too easy to reframe virtually any election or voting rights dispute as implicating injuries to a state and thereby invoke this court’s original jurisdiction,” he wrote. “New York or California could sue Texas or Alabama in this court over their felon-disenfranchisement policies. Garden-variety election disputes would soon come to the court in droves.”