U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear congressman's lawsuit seeking to overturn Pennsylvania presidential election

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Published Wednesday, December 9, 2020
by Delphine Luneau | The Center Square

(The Center Square) - A lawsuit from U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election in Pennsylvania will not be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito last week invited the parties to the lawsuit to file briefs after Kelly and his fellow plaintiffs appealed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling that dismissed the lawsuit.

But in a one sentence order released late Tuesday afternoon, the nation's highest court made clear that Kelly's lawsuit would not be the vehicle for delivering a victory to President Donald Trump in the Keystone State.

"The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied," it read.

The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which contains three justices nominated by Trump, is a significant blow to the incumbent president's hopes of reversing the reported results of the November 3 election and retaining the presidency. In Pennsylvania, which awards 20 electoral votes, the certified results show presumptive President-elect Joe Biden defeating Trump by about 80,000 votes.

Kelly and his co-plaintiffs had originally found a favorable ruling when they filed their lawsuit in November in Commonwealth Court. Judge Patricia McCullough had ordered that certification of the November 3 results be put on hold - although the presidential race was already certified by that point - and wrote in her ruling that the case was likely to succeed.

McCullough's prediction didn't hold up after Pennsylvania officials appealed to the state Supreme Court. Her order preventing further certification was stayed pending the court's ruling, and ultimately the Democrat-dominated state court dismissed the case, primarily on the grounds that it hadn't been filed in a timely fashion.

The lawsuit argued that Act 77 of 2019, which allowed for widespread, no-excuses-needed mail-in voting for the first time, was unconstitutional. It demanded that all the mail-in votes - about 2.6 million out of about 7 million cast in the state - be thrown out. Given that Biden dominated the mail-in vote, removing those votes would make Trump the winner of the state.

Kelly and his co-plaintiffs had further argued that if it wasn't possible to throw out only the mail-in votes, the entire vote should be thrown out and the decision for who to anoint the winner be referred to the Republican-led state Legislature.

A lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign itself was dismissed in late November by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Trump's attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, vowed to appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but no record of such an appeal has surfaced, and Giuliani and Ellis have both been diagnosed with coronavirus infections this week.

The rejection of the Kelly lawsuit doesn't mark the end of legal action regarding Pennsylvania's presidential election. Late Monday, the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court disputing the results of the election in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

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