If you’re wondering what exactly is going on with the Texas lawsuit, we are here to help break it down for you.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the election results in four key states, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The lawsuit alleges that various changes to election rules and procedures in those states, combined with fraud, tainted the election results.
How can it be brought directly to the Supreme Court:
The founders of this country created a Supreme Court to resolve interstate disputes. Because this case is styled as a suit filed by one state directly against other states, the suit invokes the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction. Article III, Section II of the Constitution establishes the jurisdiction (legal ability to hear a case) of the Supreme Court. The Court has original jurisdiction (a case is brought in front of the Supreme Court) in certain instances, e.g., lawsuits between 2 or more states. The Court has appellate jurisdiction (the Court can hear the case on appeal) on almost any other case that involves a point of constitutional and/or federal law.
Key Points Argued:
A major point of the lawsuit is going to hinge on the fact that local officials in these 4 states changed voting policies, including the expansion of mail-in ballots because of the COVID-19 pandemic, without the permission of state legislatures. According to Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution, "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors." The Texas lawsuit brought by AG Paxton alleges that the local officials “do not have the constitutional authority to change voting procedures" regardless of whatever COVID-related emergency power they may have."
Paxtons argument is that it is the responsibility of state legislatures per the Constitution to set the rules for the election, and in this case those were overridden in the four states by other officials whether they were judges or other government officials and that's not the way our Constitution set it up to work, regardless of pandemic protocols.
Additionally, Texas brings up the point that there were differences in voting rules and procedures in different counties within the individual states, violating the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. Bush v. Gore 2000
“The public, and indeed the candidates themselves, have a compelling interest in ensuring that the selection of a President—any President—is legitimate,” Texas officials said in a court filing. “If that trust is lost, the American Experiment will founder. A dark cloud hangs over the 2020 Presidential election.” "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 said in a statement.
What The Lawsuit Is Asking For:
Texas is asking the Supreme Court to to stop Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from voting in the Electoral College. Paxon is also asking the high court to vacate the states' certification of Biden's victories and order legislators to assign each state's electoral votes, a move that could shift the election victory to President Donald Trump. Texas also is asking the Supreme Court to delay the Dec. 14 deadline for Electoral College votes to be cast.
Where We Stand Now:
The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the four states named in the Texas lawsuit to file a response to the litigation by Thursday. If Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania are required by the Supreme Court to withdraw their electoral votes, Biden's lead would shrink from 306 electoral votes to 244. A candidate must receive 270 electoral votes in the Electoral College to be considered the winner of the presidential election.