Supreme Court rebuffs attempt to block Biden’s Pennsylvania win


The US Supreme Court has rejected a request by Pennsylvania Republicans to undo the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the state, signalling a dead-end to Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election through litigation.

The decision by the court came in an unsigned single sentence order on Tuesday stating simply that the request was “denied”. There were no noted dissents from any of the justices on the court, including from any of Mr Trump’s three appointees.

The decision came on the same day that the US electoral process reached the “safe harbour” date, which Congress has set as an effective deadline for election disputes in any given state. All but one state has certified the results, giving Mr Biden a clear victory.

Mr Trump has sought to overturn and undermine the results with a barrage of lawsuits, almost all of which have been dismissed by state and federal courts. Judges have characterised his requests to throw out votes as undemocratic and lacking in any legal or evidentiary basis.

In addition to the lawsuits, Mr Trump has overtly pressed Republican officials to take extrajudicial steps to throw the election to him. Those efforts have also failed, but some Republicans have either joined, or refused to reject, Mr Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him through a vast conspiracy involving mail ballots and compromised voting machines.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Trump continued to falsely assert that he won the election at an event at the White House on rolling out a coronavirus vaccine.

“Now, let’s see whether or not somebody has the courage, whether it’s a legislator or legislatures, or whether it’s a justice of the Supreme Court or a number of justices of the Supreme Court. Let’s see if they have the courage to do what everybody in this country knows is right,” he said.

William Barr, the US attorney-general and a loyal appointee of Mr Trump, last week said he had seen no evidence of any voter fraud that would have affected the outcome of the election, sparking attacks from the president’s allies.

The case at issue on Tuesday had been brought by a group of Pennsylvania Republicans who had sought to block the state’s election results because of the use of “no excuse” mail voting, which allowed voters to apply for a mail ballot without giving a reason.

Pennsylvania had introduced the measure in 2019, more than a year before the November 2020 election. The lawsuit, which was brought almost three weeks after the election, claimed such voting measures were unconstitutional.

A state judge had agreed to temporarily block certification until a hearing could be held, but the case was later thrown out by the Pennsylvania state supreme court, which said it had not been brought in a timely manner. That prompted the appeal to the US high court, which came after Pennsylvania certified its results.

Mr Trump has said repeatedly that he expected the election to wind up before the Supreme Court. The Republican Texas state attorney-general, Ken Paxton, also on Tuesday filed a lawsuit at the US Supreme Court to seek to block the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states that Mr Biden won.

The court is yet to rule on the attempt, which Josh Shapiro, the Democratic attorney-general of Pennsylvania, called “uniquely unserious”.

The next step in the US electoral process is the meeting of the Electoral College, which takes place separately in each state on December 14. After that, Congress will count the votes cast by the Electoral College on January 6.

Some Republican representatives have suggested they may seek to disrupt the count. Mitt Romney, the Republican senator from Utah who has criticised Mr Trump’s actions, on Tuesday called such suggestions “madness”.