President Donald Trump‘s legal strategy aimed at resuscitating his since-passed Whitehouse bid is “nothing more than shenanigans,” according to a prominent Supreme Court attorney.
As ballot counting lingered on at a middling pace in several key states following Tuesday’s high-turnout presidential election, the 45th president and his allies have filed an avalanche of legal challenges they hope will reverse Joe Biden‘s apparent victories.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has served as a focal point for the litigious president’s legal efforts. Cases in both state and federal courts have attempted to make political hay out canvassing procedures used to count and certify ballots that arrived after Election Day.
While the president’s campaign has had some success with those cases in both federal and state courts, the import of those technical legal victories is widely-viewed by legal experts minimal at best because those decisions will not change any votes one way or another.
On Friday evening, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued an opinion agreeing with Keystone State Republicans and the Trump reelection campaign–agreeing with a request to have late ballots segregated from ballots that arrived by Election Day. As numerous commentators have pointed out, however, county election boards had already been separating out such ballots because the order was already state guidance.
Notably, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a response with the court on Saturday noting that “[t]here is no evidence that any county is disobeying that clear guidance to segregate these [late] votes.”
Additionally, Alito did not direct county election officials to stop counting any ballots as Trump and Pennsylvania Republicans had requested–further limiting the potential for any drastic court-sourced swing in the president’s direction.
“Yesterday’s order from Justice Alito simply confirms what the Pennsylvania Secretary of State was already doing and will have no impact on the final outcome of Pennsylvania or this election,” said Jason Harrow, chief counsel and executive director of Equal Citizens, a legal non-profit started by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig. “The whirlwind of legal filings by the Trump campaign over the last few days all equal up to a sum total of nothing more than legal shenanigans that are distractions which will ultimately have zero impact on the outcome of this election.”
Harrow recently represented the petitioners in the faithless electors case before the nation’s high court.
In that opinion, the nine justices unanimously held that states can punish faithless electors who vote against the popular vote winner or replace potential faithless electors who might step out of line.
Faithless electors recently became a point of some contention after conservative allies of the 45th president started brainstorming creative ways to subvert the apparent will of the voters in some states. Right-wing radio host Mark Levin floated the idea that GOP-controlled state legislatures could have the “final say” over the slate of electors sent to the electoral college.
That interpretation of how the electoral college situation might play out was widely dismissed.
Still, the president and his erstwhile faithful are sticking to their guns and legal challenges, making the decision to keep “rolling with it” for now.
On Saturday, even after all the networks made their call, Trump sent out a relatively lengthy statement referring to his all-but doomed legal efforts.
The president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani followed suit immediately after the networks made the call–taking issue with the validity of mass media’s role in declaring presidential contests over while calling his longtime friend’s legal efforts “strong.”
“Whether any attempt in the next month falls into the recount bucket, the shenanigans bucket, or the Hail Mary bucket, the odds of success are the same,” Harrow noted in a recent blog post. “Zero.”
[image via Stephen Lam/Getty Images]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]