Election Lawsuits Continue In PA
December 1, 2020
National polls indicate that a majority of Trump supporters believe that Joe Biden carried the election thanks to stolen votes.
Recent conversations with active Republicans in western Pennsylvania bear that out, but with a distinct undercurrent that this seems to be a view expressed largely to show school spirit, with little more in the way of deeply held conviction than a casual assertion that a high school running back in a rural community is the best the state has ever seen as an expression of hometown loyalty.
The last few weeks of court decisions here have been far from kind to the Trump campaign’s rearguard effort to change the results of the election.
The state Supreme Court, which is sometimes bitterly divided on matters with political implications, unanimously rejected a few of the campaign’s lawsuits, although the Republican justices did seem to make an effort to rule against them in less scathing terms than those used by their Democratic colleagues.
The mostly Republican federal judges who have heard the cases have not bothered with such polite restraint. “The campaign’s claims have no merit” was among the gentler lines in recent opinions here.
The campaign’s effort did manage to make national headlines a few weeks ago, when a prominent national law firm withdrew from representing them in federal court, presumably because the leadership of the firm realized just how peculiar the arguments about to be made in their name really were.
What has emerged in the place of serious litigation is an odd, two-pronged strategy: wild claims of stolen votes for a television and online audience—famously made in one instance in the parking lot of a store selling inflatable sex toys in Northeast Philadelphia—followed a few days later by declarations in a courtroom that the campaign was making “no assertions of fraud.”
A group of some two dozen Republican legislators tried to give them a bit of cover by calling for the state to either de-certify the election or allow the legislature to substitute a set of Trump electors. This effort garnered them a bit of publicity on a holiday weekend, and more than one privately admitted that their real goal had been to reduce the likelihood of a primary challenge from the right in 2022. Introduced just days before the end of legislative terms, it unsurprisingly went nowhere.
This week will almost certainly see the last of the lawsuits dismissed, and Pennsylvania’s electors will meet in Harrisburg on December 14 to cast their votes for the Biden-Harris ticket. The political results of a month of legal wrangling and claims of a stolen election, though, will take much longer to nail down.