Supreme Court rejects Pennsylvania mail-in ballot case; Justice Thomas disagrees, warning of “erosion of voter confidence”

by Peter Heck · Feb 22nd, 2021 6:42 pm
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Last Updated Feb 23rd, 2021 at 1:44 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court all but ended the last Republican effort to challenge the 2020 presidential election early Monday by refusing to hear a case over Pennsylvania's mail-in deadline controversy.

There are a few remaining election challenges, but many experts thought the Pennsylvania case was Republicans' best chance of earning a hearing before the highest court in the land.

At issue in Pennsylvania was the state's decision to allow mail-in ballots to be counted even if they arrived after Election Day. Ultimately, there were not enough mail-in ballots that came in after the original deadline to have affected the outcome of the state totals, but Republicans pressed the issue on principle and with an eye to the future.

In order to be granted certiorari, or cert, at least four justices must agree to hear the case. In the Pennsylvania appeal, Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch agreed to take the case. Perhaps surprisingly, the newest justice, Trump-appointee Amy Coney Barrett declined, denying certiorari to the challenge.

Justice Thomas warned what his colleagues' choice to ignore the cases might portend for the future.

"The decision to leave election law hidden beneath a shroud of doubt is baffling," Thomas wrote specifically about the mail-in ballot controversy. "By doing nothing, we invite further confusion and erosion of voter confidence. Our fellow citizens deserve better and expect more of us."

Two additional Trump campaign lawsuits against Pennsylvania and Wisconsin results were dismissed, as was a challenge of the Pennsylvania results by Republican U.S. Representative Mike Kelly.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro celebrated the Supreme Court's decisions.


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