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Supreme Court Quells Indicted Texas AG Ken Paxton’s Rebellion Against the 2020 Election Outcome


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s plot to overturn elections in four states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden won support from a startling number of Republicans, but not where it ultimately mattered—in the Supreme Court of the United States.

On Friday, the high court trounced the Texas rebellion against the 2020 election outcome.

“The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution. Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot,” the high court wrote, with expected remarks from Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. The conservative justices do not believe the Supreme Court has “discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction.” They have said said so before.

Alito and Thomas said that they would have granted the Paxton motion for leave to file the bill of complaint. Other than that, though, they would have denied relief.

“I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue,” Alito and Thomas said in a joint statement on Friday.

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro called for Trump loyalists to end the barrage of “seditious” attacks on the election.

“The US Supreme Court saw through this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and its swift denial should make anyone contemplating further attacks on our election think twice,” Shapiro wrote. “While these stunts are legally insignificant, their cost to our country—in misleading the public about a free and fair election and in tearing at our Constitution—is high and we will not tolerate them from our sister states or anyone else.”

That was the second time Pennsylvania pilloried Trump, Paxton, and GOP-backed project as nothing less than a “seditious abuse of the legal process,” which should never be allowed to happen again.

Paxton’s last stand won the support of 17 other Republican attorneys general, 126 GOP members of Congress, and two fantasy-secessionist states of “New California” and “New Nevada.” Their shared goal was to topple elections in four real states: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia.

It may even have given Paxton a better shot at a pardon from outgoing President Donald Trump for legal woes involving a reported federal bribery investigation, but it did not impress the Supreme Court justices.

Battling a securities-fraud indictment for more than half a decade, Paxton gained support in friend-of-the-court briefs ranging from the unfathomable to the absurd. Accused murderer Kyle Rittenhouse’s lawyer Lin Wood, fresh off a string of “Kraken” litigation defeats, misspelled his own name in one amicus brief, and the invented states of “New California” and “New Nevada” asked for a high court hearing.

Another legal brief from Trump loyalist elected officials wrote incoherently that there were “credible allegations of cabal and oligarchy in the four” states in question, without defining those terms beyond what many identified as an anti-Semitic dog-whistle.

Trump himself joined Paxton’s cavalry with help from the John C. Eastman, the law professor who propagated the “birther” theory questioning Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s eligibility for elected office.

More sober voices called for the legal action’s speedy demise. The City of Detroit took aim at Rudy Giuliani’s star witness Mellissa Carone, whose flamboyant performance during a stunt hearing in Michigan earned her a Saturday Night Live parody and a pat rejection from every court that found her allegations “not credible.” The Motor City called her a model of “startling ignorance.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel called the ruling an affirmation of the rule of law.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is an important reminder that we are a nation of laws, and though some may bend to the desire of a single individual, the courts will not,” Nessel wrote in a statement. “To the people of the State of Michigan, it was a great honor to appear at our country’s highest court on your behalf to ensure that your voice was heard and that your votes were counted. Now it’s time to move forward—not as separate states, red or blue—but as united states in the continuing pursuit of a more perfect union.”

In striking contrast, the Texas GOP openly flirted with secession.

“Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution,” the party’s chairman Allen West wrote in a statement.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul applauded the court for having “swiftly rejected the request of Texas’s AG, the President, and a troublingly large number of Republican AGs and members of Congress to take power away from millions of voters and give it to politicians.”

“Today’s ruling is strong vindication of the rule of law and a victory for democracy,” Kaul told Law&Crime.

The attorney general’s office of George, the last state whose election was under attack, said simply: ““We respect the decision of the Supreme Court.”

[Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."