Trump and 17 states back Texas bid to undo his election loss at Supreme Court

Mr Donald Trump has falsely claimed he won re-election and has made baseless allegations of widespread voting fraud. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President Donald Trump and 17 US states on Wednesday (Dec 9) threw their support behind a long-shot lawsuit by Texas seeking to overturn his election loss by asking the US Supreme Court to throw out the voting results in four states.

Mr Trump, defeated by President-elect Joe Biden in the Nov 3 election, filed a motion with the court asking the nine justices to let him intervene and become a plaintiff in the suit filed on Tuesday by Republican-governed Texas against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

If the justices let Mr Trump join the lawsuit, it would create the extraordinary circumstance of a sitting US president asking the top American court to decide that the millions of votes cast in the four states did not count.

The Republican president lost to Mr Biden in the four election battleground states after winning them in the 2016 election.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Trump said, "This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!"

In a separate brief, lawyers for 17 states led by Missouri's Republican Attorney-General Eric Schmitt also urged the justices to hear the case.

Election law experts have said the Texas lawsuit stands little chance of success and lacks legal merit.

The lawsuit, the latest in a series of election challenges brought by Mr Trump's campaign and supporters that so far have failed in numerous courts, was brought by Mr Ken Paxton, the Republican Attorney-General of Texas and an ally of the president.

In addition to Missouri, the states joining Texas were: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia. All of the states were represented by Republican officials in the filing. All but three of the states have Republican governors.

Mr Trump has falsely claimed he won re-election and has made baseless allegations of widespread voting fraud. Election officials at the state level have said they have found no evidence of such fraud.

Officials from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have called the lawsuit a reckless attack on democracy. It was filed directly with the Supreme Court rather than with a lower court, as is permitted for certain litigation between states.

The New York Times, quoting an unnamed source familiar with the discussion, reported that Trump has asked Republican US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to argue the case if the Supreme Court agrees to hear it.

Zero chance

"Both procedurally and substantively, it's a mess," Professor Justin Levitt, an election law expert at Loyola Law School in California, said of the Texas lawsuit. "There's zero chance the court agrees to take the case."

The Texas suit argued that changes made by the four states to voting procedures amid the coronavirus pandemic to expand mail-in voting were unlawful. Texas asked the Supreme Court to immediately block the four states from using the voting results to appoint presidential electors to the Electoral College.

Mr Biden has amassed 306 electoral votes - far higher than the necessary 270 - compared to Mr Trump's 232 in the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the election's outcome. The four states contribute a combined 62 electoral votes to Mr Biden's total.

Texas also asked the Supreme Court to delay the Dec 14 date for Electoral College votes to be formally cast, a date set by law in 1887.

The Supreme Court's 6-3 conservative majority includes three justices appointed by Mr Trump. Before the election, Mr Trump said he expected its outcome to be decided by the Supreme Court.

Democrats and other critics have accused Mr Trump of aiming to reduce public confidence in US election integrity and undermine democracy by trying to subvert the will of the voters.

Mr Trump's filing with the court said the four states "conducted the elections according to unauthorized rules, "adding that it was "not necessary for the Plaintiff in Intervention (Trump) to prove that fraud occurred" to have the election results thrown out.

Mr Trump brought his motion in his personal capacity, rather than through the US Justice Department or his campaign.

Mr Trump is represented by Mr John Eastman, a conservative legal scholar who drew criticism for falsely questioning whether Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris is eligible to serve as vice-president because her immigrant parents were born outside the United States.

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