Texas attorney general Ken Paxton (R.) is suing four battleground states in the Supreme Court, accusing them of using the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to sidestep election laws and swing votes to Democrats.
The suit says state officials in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin violated the Constitution when they unilaterally revised voting deadlines and allowed widespread mail-in voting. Similar post-election claims from Republican groups and the Trump campaign have struggled to gain traction in court.
“Using the COVID-19 pandemic as a justification, government officials in the defendant states of Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania … usurped their legislatures’ authority and unconstitutionally revised their state’s election statutes,” the lawsuit reads. “Presently, evidence of material illegality in the 2020 general elections held in Defendant States grows daily.”
Texas wants the High Court to order a special election in the four battleground states and disqualify any Electoral College votes based on current results. Such orders would be unprecedented. Paxton is also pressing the Court to act on an expedited basis and hear oral arguments on Friday, an unusual move and an extraordinary one given the relief Texas requested.
Timing is a problem for Texas, since electors must be appointed on Monday. Paxton said the Court can just ignore the deadline, which is set in federal law. He said the justices “should not cement a potentially illegitimate election result in the middle of this storm.”
The justices rarely decide lawsuits filed directly in the Supreme Court, as Texas’s case is. While the Constitution provides that the Court should hear cases involving the states, the justices have long held that they have discretion to turn them away.
Paxton’s future in public life is in question after senior aides accused him of bribery and abuse of office. An FBI investigation is ongoing. His current term expires in 2022.