Trump files last-gasp appeal to SCOTUS over Pennsylvania mail-in ballot deadline

Fourth verse, same as the first? Donald Trump and his allies have petitioned the Supreme Court once again to reverse the election, this time in Pennsylvania over the use of mail-in ballots. The complaint has not yet been docketed, but various news outlets describe this latest effort as a comprehensive complaint over several state supreme court decisions — including one that the Supreme Court punted just before the election.

Team Trump wants what it has always wanted — to vacate the slate of electors and force the state legislature to appoint new electors directly:

Undeterred by dismissals and admonitions from judges, President Donald Trump’s campaign continued with its unprecedented efforts to overturn the results of the Nov 3. election Sunday, saying it had filed a new petition with the Supreme Court.

The petition seeks to reverse a trio of Pennsylvania Supreme Court cases having to do with mail-in ballots and asks the court to reject voters’ will and allow the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pick its own slate of electors. …

“The petition seeks all appropriate remedies, including vacating the appointment of electors committed to Joseph Biden and allowing the Pennsylvania General Assembly to select their replacements,” Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said in a statement.

He is asking the court to move swiftly so it can rule before Congress meets on Jan. 6 to tally the vote of the Electoral College, which decisively confirmed Biden’s win with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. But the justices are not scheduled to meet again, even privately, until Jan 8, two days after Congress counts votes.

That’s neither here nor there. The justices aren’t meeting privately in the physical sense at all these days; they, like many of us, are working from home. Supreme Court justices work on emergencies all the time, too. It would not take much to get them to “meet,” and a complaint of this import might be one of those times.

One catastrophic problem in this case isn’t the lack of schedule at SCOTUS but the lack of one at the Pennsylvania state legislature. They adjourned at the end of last month and aren’t due to return until January 5, the day before Congress receives the Electoral College results. The General Assembly isn’t going to be around to provide the remedy, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf won’t call a special session to make that a possibility. The two Republican leaders of the state legislature rejected the idea of extending the session to provide Trump with even the possibility of such a remedy.

And even if they did suddenly decide to select a new slate of electors when they reconvene on January 5, it’s too late. Pennsylvania certified its election and its electors, who have already met and cast their ballots at the Electoral College. At best, Congress might have to choose which slate of electors it will allow from Pennsylvania, and even if it chose the legislature’s electors, Joe Biden would still have 286 electors — more than enough to win the election. It’s a lawsuit seeking a fantasy ending in more ways than one.

On top of all that, the Supreme Court made it clear that they aren’t going to entertain the idea of throwing out elections in Texas v PA et al last week. They might be tempted to return to the issue of deadline shifting on mail-in ballots at some point in order to clean up the issue they punted in late October. That only involved around 10,000 ballots in Pennsylvania (which remain uncounted at the moment anyway), while Biden won by over 80,000. The court hinted pointedly in its dismissal of Texas v PA et al that the justices were unanimously opposed on the exact same remedies sought over irregularities in Pennsylvania and the other three states; Justices Alito and Thomas explicitly rejected those remedies while saying they would have allowed arguments to be heard on the case. If that’s the case, whose vote does Trump and his attorneys hope to get? Sonia Sotomayor’s?

Trump might have a better case for standing (he does), but the Supreme Court isn’t going to throw out 2.6 million votes without some showing of specific fraud in each and every case. Moreover, the venue for that kind of case is in the state courts — where Giuliani and Trump’s legal team continually avoided the issue of fraud.  This is nothing more than a desperate Hail Mary, perhaps the fourth one now, this one coming after the game is already over.