The Supreme Court rejected on Friday Texas’s long-shot bid to void 20 million votes in four other states, clearing the path for Joe Biden’s victory when presidential electors meet Monday in state capitals across the nation.
The Supreme Court suit was President Trump’s last chance to overturn election results before the Electoral College convenes to formally cast ballots: 306 for Mr. Biden, 232 for the incumbent.
Texas, exercising the privilege states hold to file claims directly before the Supreme Court, accused Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin of violating their own state laws, and thereby the U.S. Constitution, by adjusting absentee voting procedures to accommodate the surge in mail-in ballots from voters following public-health guidance during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a brief order, the court said Texas lacked legal standing to bring the case. “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections,” the unsigned order said.
Two justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, said they believed the court was required to hear the case but expressed no position on Texas’s claim to be done.”
The Supreme Court’s order indicated that Mr. Trump’s motion, along with many others filed over the past two days, was no longer relevant.
Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the campaign plans to file new lawsuits where the president and electors have standing.
“There is nothing that prevents us from filing these cases immediately,” he said.
The White House declined to comment.
Mr. Biden’s office lauded the decision. “The Supreme Court has decisively and speedily rejected the latest of Donald Trump and his allies’ attacks on the democratic process,” said spokesman Michael Gwin.
Texas’s unprecedented legal claim—and its demand for a judicial override of a presidential election—was derided by scholars in constitutional law and practicing Supreme Court lawyers, but drew fulsome support from many Republicans furious at Mr. Trump’s defeat. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) and more than 125 GOP colleagues signed a brief in support of Texas, as did at least 17 Republican-led states and a variety of conservative groups, including one purporting to represent proposed breakaway states of “New California” and “New Nevada.”
“It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court decided not to take this case and determine the constitutionality of these four states’ failure to follow federal and state election law,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed the suit. “I will continue to tirelessly defend the integrity and security of our elections and hold accountable those who shirk established election law for their own convenience.”
“The true casualty of the Supreme Court’s decision is an erosion of the power of state legislators to make election law,” Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican, wrote on Twitter following the order.
Mr. Paxton’s lawsuit accused the four states of “rampant lawlessness” after they flipped to Mr. Biden from supporting Mr. Trump in 2016.
The states he attacked responded with outrage, if not incredulity.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in his response brief that asking the Supreme Court to “anoint Texas’s preferred candidate for President is legally indefensible and is an affront to principles of constitutional democracy.”
“Our nation’s highest court saw through this seditious abuse of our electoral process,” Mr. Shapiro said on Twitter on Friday evening. “This swift denial should make anyone contemplating further attacks on our election think twice.”
Mr. Shapiro is a Democrat, but Georgia’s Republican attorney general, Christopher Carr, sounded much the same in legal briefs. He observed that the court has striven to avoid entanglement in partisan politics, including its recent decision refusing to exercise jurisdiction over partisan gerrymandering claims.
“The novel and far-reaching claims that Texas asserts, and the breathtaking remedies it seeks, are impossible to ground in legal principles,” Mr. Carr’s brief argued. “This Court has never allowed one state to co-opt the legislative authority of another state, and there are no limiting or manageable principles to cabin that kind of overreach.”
The District of Columbia, on behalf of 23 largely Democratic-leaning states and territories, filed a brief supporting the states Texas targeted.
In the five weeks since Election Day, Mr. Trump and his supporters have filed myriad claims in state and federal courts seeking to overturn elections in states that voted for Mr. Biden. Nearly all have been rejected, sometimes in scathing tones, for failing to follow court procedures, lacking legal basis or omitting credible evidence.
While many Republicans have lined up behind Mr. Trump’s quest to nullify the election, some have voiced concerns.
“Every American who cares about the rule of law should take comfort that the Supreme Court—including all three of President Trump’s picks—closed the book on the nonsense,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) said Friday.
The Trump campaign also has sought recounts in some states and counties it lost; all have confirmed Mr. Biden’s victories. On Friday, a state judge in Wisconsin rejected the Trump campaign’s claim that recounts conducted at its request in heavily Democratic Dane and Milwaukee counties themselves were flawed because ballots with minor defects allegedly weren’t discarded.
Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek said the Trump campaign failed to show that election officials didn’t follow state laws in conducting the recounts. The Trump campaign didn’t allege fraud.
“There is no credible evidence of misconduct or wide-scale fraud,” Judge Simanek added. The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear arguments Saturday on a pending appeal. Late Friday, the court denied Mr. Trump’s request to file a brief longer than the standard word limit.
The Michigan Supreme Court also rejected a Trump campaign lawsuit that claimed that state officials failed to provide Republican poll observers with meaningful access to watch the counting of absentee ballots. Mr. Biden won Michigan by more than 150,000 votes.
“We are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court,” the one-page order said.
Texas argued that by failing to comply with their own election laws, the four states ran afoul of federal constitutional provisions that assign each state legislature responsibility for determining the “manner” of elections. That, in turn, allegedly created a potential for fraud significant enough to transform a speculative Trump win into Biden’s certified victory, thereby diluting the power of Texas voters, a majority of whom supported the incumbent and whose electoral votes, when combined with others, could have caused a different national outcome.
—Andrew Restuccia contributed to this article.
Appeared in the December 12, 2020, print edition as ‘Texas Bid to Void Votes Is Rejected.’