Democrats, and even some Republicans, cheer as US justices spurn Trump election challenges

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Supreme Court in Washington on Dec 8, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - The rejection came swiftly. The celebrations came just as fast.

The Supreme Court's unsigned order Friday (Dec 11) rejecting Texas' bid to toss the results of the presidential election in four states won by Mr Joe Biden unceremoniously ended a case that President Donald Trump had teased only hours earlier as "perhaps the most important case in history".

Democrats cheered the ruling as a symbolic final blow to more than a month of failed legal challenges by Mr Trump and his allies and a victory for the will of voters who delivered Mr Biden 306 Electoral College votes and a margin of more than seven million in the popular vote.

"The will of the people will be heard," New York Attorney-General Letitia James, a Democrat, said on Twitter.

Mr Josh Shapiro, the attorney-general of Pennsylvania and a Democrat, said that the Supreme Court had recognised the lawsuit as a "seditious abuse of the judicial process".

Though legal experts never gave the case much of a chance, it drew support from more than 120 Republican members of Congress and 17 Republican attorneys-general. On Friday night, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska was the highest-level Republican to break with Mr Trump and much of his own party in applauding the ruling.

"Since election night, a lot of people have been confusing voters by spinning Kenyan Birther-type, 'Chavez rigged the election from the grave' conspiracy theories," Mr Sasse said in a statement.

"But every American who cares about the rule of law should take comfort that the Supreme Court - including all three of President Trump's picks - closed the book on this nonsense."

Among those who had signed on in support of the lawsuit on Friday was Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top House Republican. When the case was dismissed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the lawmakers who signed onto the lawsuit "brought dishonour to the House" and chastised them for choosing "to subvert the Constitution and undermine public trust in our sacred democratic institutions."

The Supreme Court's ruling effectively ended the president's attempts to use the legal system to get a result the voters denied him, leaving him to press his case in the court of public opinion, where his baseless arguments about fraudulent voting have found far more fertile ground than in state and federal courts.

A poll released this week by Quinnipiac University found that more than three-quarters of Republicans believe there was widespread fraud in the election.

Prof Rick Hasen, a professor of law at the University of California at Irvine, said the ruling, while unsurprising, was significant for the country.

"The good news is that our institutions held," Prof Hasen said. "While many Republican legislators and attorneys-general signed onto Texas' anti-democratic effort, Republican election officials who count the votes and Republican judges did not."

Yet even among those who celebrated the outcome of the case, many feared the longer-term impact of Mr Trump's rhetoric on public trust in democracy and the mechanics of elections.

"Pleased with the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the US) ruling, but also immediately slightly terrified of where this crazy train goes next," Mr Brendan Buck, an adviser to the last two Republican speakers, Mr Paul Ryan and Mr John Boehner, wrote on Twitter.

He later added: "We should know by now there's a bottomless supply of crazy."

Not long after, Mr Allen West, a former congressman and chair of the Texas Republican Party, slashed at the Supreme Court and said in a statement that hinted at secession that "perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a union of states that will abide by the Constitution".

Republican Representative of Illinois Adam Kinzinger, called on the Texas GOP to retract the statement and fire Mr West. "My guy Abraham Lincoln and the Union soldiers already told you no," Mr Kinzinger wrote on Twitter.

The US Supreme Court unceremoniously ended a case that President Donald Trump had teased only hours earlier as "perhaps the most important case in history". PHOTO: REUTERS

In recent weeks, Mr Trump has trained his anger at Fox News, the often sympathetic cable network, for accepting the election results, and directed his supporters to Newsmax, which has seen a surge in pro-Trump viewers since Election Day. On Friday, Newsmax anchor Greg Kelly opened his 7pm programme by reassuring his audience: "It's not over."

When a guest, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, depicted Friday's court order as a game-over moment for the president - saying there was now a "close to zero" chance that the Supreme Court might reverse the election results - Mr Kelly objected.

"I've seen stranger things happen in a courtroom," he said, before invoking one of Mr Dershowitz's most famous legal cases: "I've seen O.J. Simpson walk!"

With loss after loss in the courts and multiple recounts showing Mr Biden ahead in the decisive states, Mr Trump's November defeat has been repeated, certified and confirmed enough to keep many Democrats pleased.

"With each loss we get to celebrate the Biden/Harris victory all over again," Mr Ken Martin, a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee and the state party chair in Minnesota, said. "It's like the gift that keeps on giving."

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