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Trump Attacks the Supreme Court; Offers Bizarre Praise To Justices Alito, Thomas After Losing 2020 Election Lawsuit


on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States.

President Donald Trump refused late Friday night and into Saturday morning to admit defeat after the U.S. Supreme Court scuttled a case he touted as critically important to his dreams of winning the 2020 election.  A volley of Trump tweets attacking the Court began shortly before midnight and included a rather stilted reading of what actually happened when the court tossed the case.

The tweets included a piece by conservative commentator Todd Starnes that thanked Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas for issuing a “statement” partially against the court’s decision to slap down a pro-Trump lawsuit.  The litigation was attempted on behalf of the State of Texas by its indicted attorney general, Ken Paxton, against several key states where President-Elect Joe Biden won the popular vote.  The Alito/Thomas statement — which Starnes (but not the justices themselves) described as a “dissent” — said the court should have permitted Paxton to actually file his case because it fell within the court’s original jurisdiction to hear lawsuits between states.  Critically, both Alito and Thomas said they  “would not grant other relief” sought by Paxton.  The pair said they “express[ed] no view on any other issue.”  Though the Alito/Thomas statement has been criticized by lawyers for being imprecisely written, the consensus is that Paxton would have have lost after filing his case under the Alito/Thomas view rather than not being allowed to file it at all under the majority view of the other seven justices.  Naturally, Starnes’s piece, which Trump tacitly endorsed, slammed justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh for remaining “silent” in the litigation.

Trump had earlier attempted to join the Paxton litigation as an intervenor.

The president then parroted an incomplete take by Sean Hannity on what Alito and Thomas did:

Notably, the tweets said nothing of the portion of the Alito/Thomas statement which indicated those justices “would not grant other relief” to Paxton, Trump’s ally. The strange and arguably misplaced singling out of Alito and Thomas as praiseworthy justices drew its own criticism from Georgetown Law Prof. Josh Chafetz:

Trump’s attacks on the Supreme Court began just before midnight Friday.

“The Supreme Court really let us down,” the president tweeted. “No Wisdom, No Courage!”

A few minutes later, Trump said he only “purportedly lost” the election:

Trump then joined laments from other Republicans that the courts were not taking up elections cases on their merits but rather were dismissing the filings on procedural or other legal grounds:

The missives went on Saturday morning with references to Georgia GOP promises to dig into what happened in that state.  Trump then retweeted comments by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who said on Fox News the Supreme Court of “dodged,” “hid behind procedure,” and “refused to use their authority to enforce the constitution.”

Trump then went on to repeat his claim that he “won . . . in a landslide” and suggested that Biden’s occupancy of the White House was an “if,” not a “when.”

Trump again circled back to the issue of legal standing while pummeling the court’s alleged disinterest in the merits of the litigation launched either by his own attorneys or their allies.

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, joined the chorus of those who told Trump to pipe down.  Sasse called the election lawsuits “nonsense” and reminded Trump that his own three Supreme Court picks tossed his case.

[image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.