Who's Ready To Watch Trumpland's Last Best Legal Hope CRASH AND BURN?

We've reached the stage of the Trump administration where his courtiers fall all over themselves to see who can shout the loudest that, far from being naked, the king is wearing the finest, most elegant garb ever constructed. Can they not see his saggy, orange ass hanging out, or have they really fallen prey to collective madness?

Guess it depends on the courtier. Sen. Ted Cruz, a former Supreme Court clerk who has nonetheless offered to argue Trump's position in the last ditch litigation to get the election overturned, knows damn well that he's fondling the president's unclothed jangly bits. But when you get to the lesser members of Team Dipshit, your Sen. Marsha Blackburns, say, or your Rep. Louie Gohmerts, they probably believe this nonsense in their hearts.

And so, Wonkers, we regret to inform you that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's pardon plea cum legal stunt has gotten even stupider since yesterday, when 106 GOP congressloons filed an amicus brief in support of the Texas suit asking the Supreme Court to cancel the election in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Seventeen of them hail from one of the four defendant states and are effectively asking for their own elections to be annulled as fraudulent, a fact which might be taken as evidence that these guys are in on the joke and know damn well that this case is going nowhere. But further inspection reveals such luminaries as Rep. Scott Perry among the signers, so ... maybe not.

Additionally, the Supreme Court docket has been flooded with batshit amicus briefs from a dozen "interested" parties. Officials in Alaska, Idaho, and Arizona claim "credible allegations of cabal and oligarchy in the four Defendant states, which threaten the operation and integrity of the nationwide Republican Form of Government." (It does threaten Republican government, yes.) The Christian Family Coalition argues that the election must be voided because "each defendant State failed 'to make a choice' of Presidential electors on the election day," and if the count takes too long, the court must toss out all the votes. That's just the law, obviously. Even that loony lawyer Lin Wood is back, filing something which he characterizes as both a motion for certiorari from his own case and an "amici" brief in which he actually manages to misspell his own name. (Also amici is plural, but that's really the least of the problem here.)

Meanwhile members of the Pennsylvania legislature accuse their own secretary of state of waging an "extrajudicial assault" on the election with the connivance of, ummm, the state's judiciary.

This extrajudicial assault on the mechanism of the Commonwealth's elections came from all sides: well-funded national groups who, using COVID-19 as a pretext, brought a litany of lawsuits challenging seemingly every facet of Pennsylvania's elections; then the executive branch shrank from its obligations to defend the Commonwealth's laws, and then took to offering extrajudicial guidance to the Commonwealth's county boards of elections. Finally, these efforts were condoned and furthered by the overreaching of Pennsylvania's Supreme Court, in clear violation of the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.

Not to get too legalistic here, but the technical term for this is a "total fucking clownshow." Literally none of what the Texas Attorney General is alleging in his complaint is new — it's all been adjudicated in lower courts and tossed out. The only reason we're having this discussion at all is that Paxton had the bright idea to exploit a shortcut to the Supreme Court, which has original jurisdiction over interstate lawsuits.

In plain English, after literally dozens of federal and state courts said these claims were garbage, Paxton brought a suit that starts out at the Supreme Court because it involves hot state-on-state-action, and so he got to skip the part where he'd get tossed out by a federal trial judge for lack of standing, mootness, laches, failure to state a redressable claim, federal abstention from state law issues, and the fact that his evidence is gobbledygook. And even though it's highly, highly unlikely to work — the claim is dogshit, and it would take five justices to agree to hear it — the entire GOP has signed onto it because it's the last case standing and the Dec. 14 Electoral College vote is bearing down on us. Also because they're craven, anti-democratic demons who are perfectly happy to toss acid in the face of America's body politic.

Senator Bible Verse, who graduated from law school in 1996, wonders WHO IS VENUE? WHAT IS STANDING?

But speaking of not too legalistic, if you have some time this weekend check out the Statement of the Case section of Pennsylvania's excellent opposition motion, in which Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro lays out in detail how federal and state courts have already ruled on each and every one of Paxton's claims of law and fact.

The brief describes the Paxton gambit as "a seditious abuse of the judicial process," which it is. But because it's become dogma in Trumpland to repeat this nonsense about the "one in a quadrillion chance" that Biden could win the four states, let's just take a moment to appreciate Pennsylvania's succinct takedown of that clownmath.

Texas first alleges that "[t]he probability of former Vice President Biden winning the popular vote in the four Defendant States * * * independently given President Trump's early lead in those States as of 3 a.m. on November 4, 2020, is less than one in a quadrillion." It bases this astounding assertion on Dr. Cicchetti's assessment, for each of the states, of the extremely low probability that the votes counted before 3 a.m. and those counted afterwards were "randomly drawn from the same population." But the votes counted later were indisputably not "randomly drawn" from the same population of votes, as those counted earlier were predominantly in-person votes while those counted later were predominantly mail-in votes. And Texas's own complaint shows why the later-counted votes led to such a strong shift in favor of President-Elect Biden: "Significantly, in Defendant States, Democrat [sic] voters voted by mail at two to three times the rate of Republicans." Both this fact and the expectation that it would result in a shift in President Elect Biden's favor as mail-in votes were counted were widely reported months ahead of the election.

Texas further claims, again based on Dr. Cicchetti's analysis, that "[t]he same less than one in a quadrillion statistical improbability" can be found "when Mr. Biden's performance in each of those Defendant States is compared to former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's performance in the 2016 general election." For this assertion, Dr. Cicchetti simply assumes that the likelihood of a given Pennsylvania voter in 2020 voting for Biden was the same as that of a Pennsylvania voter in 2016 voting for Hillary Clinton—and then concludes, based on that assumption, that the 2020 results were quite improbable. But it should not be necessary to point out that the 2016 and 2020 elections were, in fact, separate events, and any analysis based on the assumption that voters in a particular state would behave the same way in two successive presidential elections is worthless. [Internal citations omitted.]

The Georgia motion is similarly persuasive, and we do appreciate the shade thrown by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, filing an amicus brief in support of the defendants, in this footnote.

The Montana Attorney General joined an amicus brief of Republican Attorneys General urging this Court to accept the Texas suit. His participation is a surprise. As detailed throughout, nearly identical claims arose in litigation in Montana this fall and were resoundingly rejected by a federal district court in Montana. Montana's experience with mail ballots has been a successful one, aided in no small part by the Montana Attorney General's prior, strenuous defense of Montana's election laws. See Driscoll v. Stapleton, 473 P.3d 386 (Mont. 2020).

That's going to leave a mark.

In fact, this whole sordid exercise is going to leave a mark, with America's faith in our own democratic institutions severely wounded. It will not, however, succeed in making Trump a two-term president. Expect the Supreme Court to drop the hammer on this within the next 72 hours. Yes, yes, we know BUT GORSUCH, BUT KAVANAUGH, BUT BONY CARROT. And still, no.

Hang in there, we're almost through the woods.

[Docket, Texas v. Pennsylvania]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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