Supreme Court justices Alito and Thomas dishonored the court and undermined this nation’s democratic principles. They did so by asserting that the State of Texas had standing to sue swing states Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin because of election irregularities alleged by President Trump. Gratuitously asserting that they, like the other justices, would have granted “no relief” to Texas on the merits does not absolve them of injudicious decision-making. Their decision violated several legal norms, including rule 11, states’ rights and the notion of original jurisdiction. 

Trump’s legal team and allies filed 56 lawsuits designed to overturn the Biden victories in the aforementioned swing states. To date, 47 of these suits have been denied, dismissed, settled or withdrawn. When dismissing these lawsuits, judges have been scathing in declaring these lawsuits meretricious. At least two legal teams representing Trump withdrew from their cases after examining the evidence. The filing by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton should have been sanctioned under rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This rule was designed to prevent frivolous lawsuits by sanctioning attorneys who fail to ensure that their filing is truthful and supported by the law. Texas’ solicitor general refused to sign the Paxton filing, presumably because of rule 11. For justices Alito and Thomas to grant standing rather than sanctioning Paxton under rule 11 was irresponsible. 

Justices Alito and Thomas were also flagrantly hypocritical in contravening their historical support for states’ rights by granting legitimacy to the Paxton assault on the rights of states to carry out their respective elections as they saw fit. The Republican attorney general of Idaho refused to file an amicus brief in support of the Paxton complaint, saying that no other state has the right to tell Idaho how it should conduct its elections. Finally, Alito and Thomas should have denounced the Paxton-asserted fiction that the supreme court in this case was the court of original jurisdiction. How can this suit be deemed “original” when all assertions of fraud in Paxton’s complaint had been previously adjudicated in state and lower federal courts and found meritless?

William McCarthy

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