By Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The state of Texas, aiming to help President Donald Trump upend the results of the U.S. election, said on Tuesday it has filed suit against the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin at the Supreme Court, calling changes they made to election procedures amid the coronavirus pandemic unlawful.
The lawsuit, announced by the Republican attorney general of Texas Ken Paxton, was filed directly with the Supreme Court, as is permitted for certain litigation between states. The Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority including three justices appointed by Trump.
The lawsuit represents the latest legal effort intended to reverse the Republican president’s loss to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election.
Republican-governed Texas in the lawsuit accused election officials in the four states of failing to protect mail-in voting from fraud, thus diminishing “the weight of votes cast in states that lawfully abide by the election structure set forth in the Constitution.”
State election officials have said they have found no evidence of such fraud that would change the results. There was a surge in voting by mail in the election due to the pandemic, as many Americans stayed away from polling places to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Texas is asking the Supreme Court to block the Electoral College votes in the four states – a total of 62 votes – from being counted. Biden has amassed 306 electoral votes – exceeding the necessary 270 – compared to 232 for Trump in the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the election’s outcome, while also winning the national popular vote by more than 7 million votes.
Texas also is asking the Supreme Court to delay the Dec. 14 deadline for Electoral College votes to be cast.
Paul Smith, a professor at Georgetown University’s law school, said Texas did not have a legitimate basis to bring the suit.
“There is no possible way that the state of Texas has standing to complain about how other states counted the votes and how they are about to cast their electoral votes,” Smith said.
Trump’s campaign and his allies have pursued unsuccessful lawsuits in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other states, making unfounded claims of widespread election fraud. Trump lost those four states after winning them in 2016.
The Supreme Court is not obligated to hear the case and has said in previous decisions that its “original jurisdiction” that allows litigation between states to be filed directly with the nine justices should be invoked sparingly.
(Reporting by Makini Brice, Jan Wolfe and Lawrence Hurley in Washington; Additional reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Will Dunham and Noeleen Walder)
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