Trump campaign asks Supreme Court to halt ballot counting in Pennsylvania
The Supreme Court is seen on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Washington. President Donald Trump says he's planning an aggressive legal strategy to try prevent Pennsylvania from counting mailed ballots that are received in the three days after the election, a matter that could find its way to the high court. | J. Scott Applewhite / AP


The state of Pennsylvania, a key battleground state for the presidential race, has consistently been in the Trump campaign’s legal crosshairs regarding mail-in ballots accepted after Election Day.

While Trump currently holds a slight lead over Biden in the state, tens of thousands of mail-in ballots remain to be counted, and Trump’s lead has narrowed as more of the early and absentee results come in and favor Biden.

As in Wisconsin, another battleground state now called for Biden, the Trump campaign filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking the court’s intervention in a case pending that would invalidate a state court’s decision to count mail-in ballots received by Friday, Nov. 6, that are postmarked by Election Day.

Previously, the High Court declined to fast track the challenge by the state GOP but left open the possibility of revisiting the legality of the state court’s action post-election. The court’s ruling, therefore, left intact the extensions following its earlier 4-4 split decision in the matter.

Trump’s campaign has also accused Pennsylvania Sec. of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, of improperly providing a ballot timeline extension for first-time voters to provide proper proof of identification for their vote to count.

“Without our action, Pennsylvanians, and possibly all Americans, may be forced to wait yet another several days for the outcome of the election—all because of the Secretary’s ridiculous eleventh-hour guidance that directly violates the Election Code,” said deputy campaign manager Justin Clark.

However, we should note the clear inconsistencies with Trump’s legal strategy: Challenging the integrity of the voting process where he is losing vs. championing the right of every vote to be counted (or to end all counting) where he is winning.

As of Wednesday evening, there have been no verified reports of fraud or any other type of ballot concerns out of Pennsylvania. And the state’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a CNN interview that the lawsuit was “more a political document than a legal document.”

According to Wendy Weiser, who heads the Democracy Program at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, Trump has an “implausible” legal strategy. “Trump has certainly been trying to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election—in every way shape, and form, all year—and this certainly fits into that pattern,” she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court has asked Pennsylvania’s Sec. of State to respond to Trump’s motion to intervene by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4.  Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion denying the first emergency appeal, said: “It would be highly desirable to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the State Supreme Court’s decision before the election. That question has national importance, and there is a strong likelihood that the State Supreme Court decision violates the Federal Constitution.”

Setting up what could potentially be the first Election 2020 hearing before the conservative majority High Court, supplemented by the latest Trump appointee, Amy Coney Barrett. Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer said if Trump goes to the Supreme Court, which he’s threatened to do, “he will be in for one of the most embarrassing defeats a president has ever suffered by the highest court in the land.”

We should keep in mind that the High Court could indeed step in over the three-day extension for absentee ballots dispute if those votes prove critical to deciding the presidential outcome in Pennsylvania.


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.