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Supreme Court won't take up GOP lawsuit over mail voting in Pennsylvania

The denial delivers another blow to President Donald Trump's efforts to score a victory in court that would block a state's certification of the vote.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump listens to a reporter's question after awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable at the White House on Dec. 7, 2020.Patrick Semansky / AP

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court declined Tuesday to take up an appeal filed by a Republican congressman who asked the court to nullify the certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election in Pennsylvania.

It was another blow to President Donald Trump's efforts to score a victory in court that would block a state's certification of the vote. The court denied the appeal in a one-sentence order with no noted dissents.

Rep. Mike Kelly, joined by two unsuccessful candidates for Congress, filed a lawsuit claiming that the state legislature violated the Pennsylvania constitution when it passed a law last year allowing no-excuse voting by mail. But state judges tossed the Pennsylvania lawmaker's case out, saying the plaintiffs waited too long to bring their complaint to court.

The rulings cited a well-established rule that courts will not consider legal claims filed long after a perceived wrong has been committed, especially when the action in question has been relied on by others.

The legislature changed the law in October 2019, 13 months before the election, but the plaintiffs waited until after the Pennsylvania primary and 28 days after the general election to file their lawsuit. The state supreme court said they showed "a complete failure to act with due diligence."

Lawyers for the state told the justices that no court has ever issued an order nullifying a governor's certification of presidential election results, which would unleash "staggering upheaval, turmoil, and acrimony."

The court has yet to act on two other election related cases. Pennsylvania Republicans have been waiting since late September for the court to say whether it will take up their challenge to the decision by the secretary of state to extend the deadline by three days for returning mail-in ballots.

And on Tuesday, Texas sued the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the Supreme Court, where lawsuits between states originate. It said procedural problems and allegation of fraud in those states "preclude knowing who legitimately won the 2020 election and threaten to cloud all future elections."

Texas asked the court to delay the Dec. 14 meeting of presidential electors who cast the actual vote for president in what is known as the Electoral College.

The lawsuit was widely panned by election law experts who said it failed to meet even the minimum standards for a lawsuit by one state against another.