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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Junks Republican Lawsuit Seeking to Stop Election Certification

— December 1, 2020

The justices said the lawsuit was filed inappropriately late–well over a year after Pennsylvania passed Act 77, allowing for an expansion in absentee voting.

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has overturned a temporary injunction that was stopping the state from certifying its election results.

According to The Associated Press, the Supreme Court issued its unanimous decision on Saturday, effectively discarding a three-day-old order delaying certification. In its ruling, the justices observed that a Republican-led challenge to Pennsylvania’s mail-in and absentee voting laws had been filed months overdue.

Under existing state law, anyone seeking to challenge voting procedures only has a set amount of time to do so—and the plaintiffs, in this case, missed the cut-off by months.

That’s because, in October 2019, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf—a Democrat—signed into Act 77 into law. Act 77, among other things, makes it substantially easier for Pennsylvania residents to vote by mail. In the past, prospective absentee voters often had to show cause for choosing to submit their ballots by post.

But with the passage of Act 77, all voters are eligible to receive mail-in ballots upon request.

Furthermore—and central to the lawsuit’s outcome—anyone wishing to challenge Act 77’s legality had until April 28th to do so. In fact, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania was accorded authority to hear any and all challenges to the legislation.

Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally, flags in the background.
Donald Trump. Photo by Gage Skidmore, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0

However, Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly—among the several Republican plaintiffs—waited until after Election Day 2020 to raise concerns about ballot integrity and security.

“It is beyond cavil that Petitioners failed to act with due diligence in presenting the instant claim,” the justices wrote.

“Petitioners could have brought this action at any time between October 31, 2019, when Governor Wolf signed Act 77 into law, and April 28, 2020, when this Court still retained exclusive jurisdiction over constitutional challenges to it,” the justices said.

The court cut off any possible means for appeal, saying that the plaintiffs cannot “reconfigure” their complaints for reconsideration.

The Supreme Court also noted that the lawsuit’s core demand—that Pennsylvania’s lawsuit be overturned outright—was an unrealistic overreaction to unfounded allegations.

“They have failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted,” Justice David Wecht wrote in a concurring opinion.

Writing on Twitter, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Shapiro said the ruling is “another win for democracy.”

“The PA Supreme Court has dismissed the suit that was attempting to throw out the votes of 2.5 million Pennsylvanians and halt certification,” Shapiro wrote.

CNN notes that the Trump campaign—along with Republican officials and conservative voters—have mounted several legal challenges against Pennsylvania, most of which intended to either discard mail-in ballots or rescind the state’s election certification outright.

Last week, a federal judge issued a scathing decision against the Trump campaign. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann said that the conservative plaintiffs seemed to rely on “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence.

“In the United States of America,” Brann said, “this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state.”


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