Elections 2020FederalStatewide NewsTexas Files Suit Against Four States over Presidential Election Results in U.S. Supreme Court

Texas has joined the continuing fracas over the presidential election outcome by filing suit against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the U.S. Supreme Court.
December 8, 2020
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a case against the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the United States Supreme Court late Monday claiming the states violated the United States Constitution in conducting the presidential election.

“Our country stands at an important crossroads. Either the Constitution matters and must be followed…or it is simply a piece of parchment on display at the National Archives,” the case opens. 

Paxton said in a statement of the filing, “Trust in the integrity of our election processes is sacrosanct and binds our citizenry and the States in this Union together. Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin destroyed that trust and compromised the security and integrity of the 2020 election.” 

Texas alleges that the states in question violated one or more federal requirements for elections, specifically the Electors Clause of the Constitution which states in pertinent part: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.”

Taken together, the four defendant states account for 62 electoral votes, enough to change the outcome of the presidential election.

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Texas is asking the Supreme Court to declare that the defendant states violated the U.S. Constitution, prevent the electoral college votes based on the current election results from being counted, authorize a special election for presidential electors, direct any defendant state that has already appointed electors to appoint a new set of electors, and prevent any defendant state that hasn’t yet from certifying its election results.

State legislatures, not governors or courts, are given the authority to direct the appointment of electors. Texas argues that when non-legislative actors, like governors and judges, make changes to the election rules, that is a Constitutional violation. All of the defendant states in this suit made changes to their election rules through their executive and judicial branches rather than their legislative branches.

These changes, Texas claims, eliminated ballot-security measures that were designed to ensure the integrity of the election outcome. Additionally, Texas is investigating “serious voting irregularities” and believes that even the “appearance of fraud in a close election is poisonous to democratic principles.”

“The states violated statutes enacted by their duly elected legislatures, thereby violating the Constitution. By ignoring both state and federal law, these states have not only tainted the integrity of their own citizens’ vote, but of Texas and every other state that held lawful elections,” Paxton explained.

The case points out that Texas took actions to prevent fraud by not allowing “no excuse vote by mail,” maintaining strict signature verification processes, requiring voter identification, and ensuring early voting ballot boxes were secure.  

However, Texas itself faced various changes to its elections procedure without consent of the state legislature, which only convenes for six months every two years unless called upon by the governor.

For example, Governor Abbott unilaterally extended the early voting period a week longer than statute allows. Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Texas GOP Chair Allen West, and State Senators Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) sued the governor over the order but lost in the Texas Supreme Court.

Another challenge, this time from the governor, came when he ordered counties to only provide one mail ballot drop-off location but expanded the use of in-person drop-off sites to the full length of early voting. The practice, in code, is limited to Election Day only. 

Harris County Interim Clerk Chris Hollins expanded the available sites from one to 11, creating security concerns cited by the governor. Abbott sued to prevent that and the Texas Supreme Court again sided with him on the question.

In the U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit, Texas cites evidence that the defendant states violated their own election laws and regulations. It points to changes in absentee balloting procedures, along with videos of blocked poll watchers, witness testimony about late-night ballot dumps and backdating of ballots, and expert analysis of statistical irregularities which it claims raise serious questions about the integrity of the election results.

Texas believes it is properly positioned to bring this suit against the states in question because the U.S. government is a federal system, where not only the people but the states have interests that must be protected. 

The Senate was designed by America’s founders to represent the states and Texas argues it suffers an injury when “another state violates federal law to affect the outcome of a presidential election.” 

The body is presided over by the vice president of the United States so states like Texas have a particular interest in the election of the vice president, who may cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate.  

Furthermore, Texas argues that it may represent the interest of its citizens in ensuring that the presidential election was conducted in a fair and constitutionally compliant manner.

“Their failure to abide by the rule of law casts a dark shadow of doubt over the outcome of the entire election. We now ask that the Supreme Court step in to correct this egregious error,” Paxton asserted.

The Republican Party of Texas has thrown its support behind the case filed yesterday. Chairman Allen West said in a press statement, “The Republican Party of Texas strongly supports the lawsuit filed by the State of Texas against Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The unconstitutional and illegal actions in those states relating to the 2020 national election violate the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment for Texans. We cannot tolerate judicial and executive actions that undermine election law.”

Governor Abbott echoed support, telling Spectrum News 1 Texas, “[The lawsuit] tries to accelerate the process, providing certainty and clarity about the entire election process. The United States of America needs that.”

Cases between states fall under the original jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court found in Article III of the Constitution.

Texas is asking the Supreme Court to expedite its consideration of the case and to order that state legislatures certify electors in “a manner consistent with the Constitution” and in advance of January 6, the designated date for the House of Representatives to count the presidential electors.

Brad Johnson contributed to this report.

Update: The piece has been updated to include comment from Governor Abbott. 

The Supreme Court has ordered the defendant’s briefs be turned in by 3 p.m. on Thursday, December 10.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.