US Supreme Court flat-out denies GOP request to block Biden's Pennsylvania win

US Supreme Court flat-out denies GOP request to block Biden's Pennsylvania win
Joe Biden // Credit: Gage Skidmore

On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court rejected a GOP request to block Pennsylvania's certification of President Joe Biden's victory in the state, with not a single justice registering a dissent.

The decision reflected the absolute absurdity of the request, which had been widely panned by election law experts, and the fundamental futility of President Donald Trump's hopes of overturning the 2020 election in the courts. It also came on Dec. 8, which federal law designated as "safe harbor day," the point at which states can choose their presidential electors and they have to be accepted by Congress.

"The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied," the single-sentence order said.

Not even Justices Samuel Alito or Clarence Thomas, the most conservative and Trump-sympathetic of the court's members, piped up in the defense of the petition.

Rick Hasen, a prominent election law scholar, noted that he had previously dismissed the request from GOP state Sen. Mike Kelly as transparently ridiculous. He called it "perhaps the dumbest argument ever made in emergency petition to the Supreme Court."

Nevertheless, the case has excited some Republicans still hoping that Trump could remain president. GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas offered to argue the issue before the court, even though that opportunity didn't present itself in this case.

Trump himself has repeatedly expressed the hope that the Supreme Court will somehow hand him victory in the 2020 election. He even expressed this wish prior to the election, suggesting that he needed to get Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the court so that she could be in place to ensure his win. And on Tuesday afternoon, Trump even retweeted a post suggesting that Barrett would be on his side at the Supreme Court:

More studious observers of the court, however, have argued Trump had no viable path to get the justices to overturn the election. There are other election cases that Trump allies are trying to take before the court, but few serious commentators expect them to gain any traction either. Had the result been closer, and had disputes over the vote counting rested on some more contentious issue of election law, the conservative-dominated court might have been willing to weigh in on Trump's behalf. But what Trump is hoping for at this point is much more than that. He wants the court's conservatives to throw out any fundamental principles they believe in that would get in the way of his victory. He just wants to be declared the winner. Doing so without any plausible justification could potentially tear the country apart. But there's no reason to think the justices are even interested in trying it.


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