Texas’ Supreme Court election challenge divides Republicans

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Divided Republicans lined up with and against President Trump on Thursday in a high-stakes Supreme Court case challenging Democrat Joseph R. Biden’s election in four swing states, as the president echoed a supporter’s view that the country stands at “a dangerous moment.”

A total of 106 House Republicans, out of 196, joined in support of Texas’ lawsuit at the high court, telling the justices they have an interest in ensuring that the president is chosen “by counting only lawful votes.”

Among the Republicans opposing Texas’ lawsuit are former Sen. John Danforth and veteran Washington lawyer Carter Phillips, who are close friends with conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. Their brief filed Thursday said the pro-Trump lawsuit’s claims of an illegal election “make a mockery of federalism and separation of powers.”

Seventeen Republican-led states have joined Texas in asking the high court to overturn Mr. Biden’s victories in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Elected Republican officials in Alaska, Arizona and Idaho also filed a motion in support of the Texas lawsuit, expressing concern that Mr. Biden will be certified as the winner of an “unconstitutional and deeply uncertain election.”

The justices could decide to grant a hearing or deny the lawsuit at any time, but they are set to meet for a private conference Friday morning, when the matter likely will be discussed.

The president, speaking to guests at a White House Hanukkah party, said his political fate hinges on the wisdom and courage of “certain very important people.”

“The Supreme Court has a chance to save our Country from the greatest Election abuse in the history of the United States,” the president tweeted.

Mr. Trump even posted on social media the comments of an anonymous supporter from Georgia who said in a television interview, “This is going to escalate dramatically. This is a very dangerous moment in our history, the fact that our country is being stolen. A coup is taking place in front of our eyes, and the public can’t take this anymore.”

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found that 34% of voters nationwide said they believe Mr. Biden’s win was not fair, while 60% said they thought it was legitimate. Among Republicans, 77% said they believe there was widespread fraud.

The four swing states at the center of the case submitted their legal arguments to the high court Thursday in opposition to Texas’ lawsuit. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told the justices that the Texas lawsuit is a “seditious” effort to pick the next president in court.

“Texas seeks to invalidate elections in four states for yielding results with which it disagrees,” Mr. Shapiro said. “The Trump campaign began with a series of meritless litigations. When that failed, it turned to state legislatures to overturn the clear election results. Upon that failure, Texas now turns to this court to overturn the election results of more than 10% of the country.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican who is co-chairman of the Lawyers for Trump campaign coalition, said the four swing states “exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to justify unlawfully enacting last-minute changes and ignoring both federal and state election laws, thus skewing the results of the 2020 general election.”

He argued that the states expanded mail-in balloting without the approval of their elected legislatures, in violation of federal law.

“By flouting state and federal election laws, the defendant battleground states have tainted the integrity of citizens’ votes across the entire nation,” Mr. Paxton said. “To restore trust in the integrity of our election process, we must tirelessly defend its security and hold accountable those who discarded our Constitution for their own convenience.”

While two-thirds of Republican-controlled states are siding with the president at the Supreme Court, the case is exposing a division in the Republican Party. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, and Gov.-elect Spencer Cox, both Republicans, disagreed publicly with state Attorney General Sean Reyes’ decision to join the Texas lawsuit. They said Mr. Reyes, also a Republican, blindsided them.

“The attorney general did not consult us before signing on to this brief, so we don’t know what his motivation is,” Mr. Herbert and Mr. Cox said in a joint statement. “Just as we would not want other states challenging Utah’s election results, we do not think we should intervene in other states’ elections.

“Candidates who wish to challenge election results have access to the courts without our involvement. This is an unwise use of taxpayers’ money.”

Nearly half of House Republicans chose not to sign a brief in support of the Texas lawsuit. Mr. Trump let it be known that he was eagerly watching to see who sided with him and who didn’t.

Among those who didn’t was Rep. Chip Roy, Texas Republican, who called the lawsuit “a dangerous violation of federalism.” He objected to setting a precedent “to have one state asking federal courts to police the voting procedures of other states.”

Fifteen of the GOP lawmakers who signed the brief in support of the Texas lawsuit are from the four swing states being sued. They are Georgia Reps. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, Austin Scott, and A. Drew Ferguson IV; Michigan Reps. Jack Bergman, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar and Tim Walberg; Pennsylvania Reps. John Joyce, Fred Keller, Mike Kelly, Dan Meuser, Scott Perry, Guy Reschenthaler and Glenn Thompson; and Wisconsin Rep. Tom Tiffany.

Thirteen other House Republicans from those states didn’t sign the petition.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost was under intense pressure from other Republicans to join the Texas lawsuit and from Democrats to stay out of the case. He chose neither side. He filed a brief that asked the justices to rule as soon as possible on whether the federal law in question applies to “state courts or state executive officers [who] alter election rules in presidential elections.”

Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward announced that her federal case will be appealed to the Supreme Court. Her lawsuit challenges election irregularities and voting problems with software used in the Nov. 3 elections.

A federal judge in Arizona on Wednesday dismissed the lawsuit filed by Sidney Powell, a pro-Trump lawyer. Ms. Ward is a plaintiff in the case.

Ms. Powell filed similar lawsuits in Georgia and Michigan, but both were dismissed Monday. She has since taken the Georgia case to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Matt Hall, chairman of Michigan’s state House Oversight Committee, confirmed Thursday that officials from Dominion Voting Systems will appear before state lawmakers for questioning about irregularities in the election in the state.

Mr. Hall began pushing for the company to appear after his committee heard testimony from witnesses detailing misconduct at polls in the battleground state.

Dominion Voting Systems CEO John Poulos has indicated to officials that his company will have spokespeople available to testify before the state’s Senate Oversight Committee, Mr. Hall said in a statement Thursday.

“I’m pleased Dominion Voting Systems will appear before the Legislature. This continues a thorough effort to provide the people of Michigan with a clear, complete picture regarding what happened in the November election,” Mr. Hall said.

Mr. Trump said the country can’t move forward without resolving accusations of election illegalities and fraud.

“How can you give an election to someone who lost the election by hundreds of thousands of legal votes in each of the swing states?” Mr. Trump said in a post on Twitter. “How can a country be run by an illegitimate president?”

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