US Election 2020

Supreme Court asked to block Biden's victory in Pennsylvania

One of Donald Trump’s many failing election lawsuits cases has again made its way to an appeal in the United States Supreme Court. Can it succeed?

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Supreme Court asked to block Biden's victory in Pennsylvania
ERIN SCOTT REUTERS

On Tuesday the plaintiff Republican US Rep. Mike Kelly (north western Pennsylvania) among others escalated their request to prevent the state from certifying its election results for any outstanding contests as well as reverse any certifications already made across counties in the state. The state of Pennsylvania certified its election results for Biden’s victory on 24 November.

Staggeringly, Republican plaintiffs are seeking to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the state's mail voting law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors.

What is the Pennsylvania SCOTUS case alleging?

The case claims that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions, and was thrown out in lower courts for key flaws in the original case. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court on Saturday night threw out the lawsuit, including an order by a lower court judge blocking the certification of any uncertified races, according to a report by the AP.

However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by 9 December, a day after what is known as the safe harbor deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. 

In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively.

Pennsylvania election: unprecedented mail-in ballots in 2020

Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump won over Hillary Clinton in 2016. The majority of mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats in the US 2020 presidential election, as Trump worked hard to create doubts over the security of voting by mail, in a year when unprecedented proportions of the electorate chose to stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to figures obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Joe Biden won 3 of every 4 mail ballots in Pennsylvania and Trump won 2 of 3 votes cast in person. More than one third of total votes cast this year were mail-in, a total of 2.6 million compared to in person votes which totalled 4.1 million.