The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to expedite review of a high-profile dispute over Pennsylvania's deadline for mail-in absentee ballots, but left open the possibility of revisiting the matter after the election.
The Pennsylvania Republican Party had asked the court to review a ruling by the state supreme court that extended the deadline for returning mail-in ballots by three days to November 6.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for himself and Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, said there was "simply not enough time at this late date to decide the question before the election," but added that "does not mean ... that the state court decision must escape our review." Pennsylvania officials said Wednesday that county election boards would segregate ballots received after Election Day, should the court choose to review the case in the future.
Meanwhile, President Trump was out West to drum up support in the battleground state of Nevada, holding a rally Wednesday afternoon across the border in neighboring Arizona due to the Silver State's coronavirus restrictions. A senior Trump campaign official told CBS News the president plans to visit 10 states during the last week of the campaign, and hold 11 rallies in the 48 hours before Election Day.
Joe Biden is continuing to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, holding a briefing with public health experts and making remarks in Wilmington, Delaware. The U.S. is experiencing a surge in new infections, with more than 83,000 cases reported on both Monday and Tuesday, a new record.
Early voting totals continue to show high turnout across the country, just six days before the election. More than 71 million Americans have already cast their ballots, accounting for roughly 51% of the overall total from 2016.
Supreme Court declines to expedite review of Pennsylvania election dispute
The Supreme Court declined to expedite review of a case challenging an extension of Pennsylvania's deadline for accepting absentee ballots, saying there is not enough time before the election to resolve the matter while leaving open the possibility of tossing out ballots after Election Day.
The dispute centers on an order by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that extended the deadline for mail-in absentee ballots until November 6, if they were postmarked by Election Day. The state Republican Party asked the Supreme Court to place the state court's ruling on hold, which failed in a 4-4 vote. The party then asked the high court to expedite consideration of the merits of the case before the election.
Writing on Wednesday, Justice Samuel Alito made clear that he supported overturning the state court's decision to scrap the extended deadline, noting that state law explicitly set the deadline for 8 p.m. on Election Day.
"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," he wrote. "The provisions of the Federal Constitution conferring on state legislatures, not state courts, the authority to make rules governing federal elections would be meaningless if a state court could override the rules adopted by the legislature simply by claiming that a state constitutional provision gave the courts the authority to make whatever rules it thought appropriate for the conduct of a fair election."
But Alito said he concluded "there is simply not enough time at this late date to decide the question before the election." Alito's statement was joined by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas. Newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett took no part in the deliberations, the court noted.
Alito hinted that the justices could revisit the dispute and decide on the merits of the state court's ruling after the election.
"Although the Court denies the motion to expedite, the petition for certiorari remains before us, and if it is granted, the case can then be decided under a shortened schedule," he wrote. Alito said Pennsylvania officials' decision to segregate ballots received after Election Day means "a targeted remedy will be available" should the court rule the deadline extension was unconstitutional.
Ex-DHS official who endorsed Biden revealed as "Anonymous"
Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff for the Department of Homeland Security, revealed on Wednesday that he wrote the 2018 anonymous op-ed published in the New York Times claiming that officials within the Trump administration were working to constrain the president. Taylor subsequently published a book under the name "Anonymous" warning about the president's illiberal tendencies.
Taylor had previously announced over the summer that he would be supporting Joe Biden in the presidential election, and appeared in an ad for a political group opposing Mr. Trump.
In a Medium post explaining his decision to reveal his identity as Anonymous, Taylor said that the sentiments shared in his book "A Warning" were "widely held among officials at the highest levels of the federal government."
"In other words, Trump's own lieutenants were alarmed by his instability," Taylor claimed.
Taylor also said that he did not write the op-ed or his book for "eminence," money or to settle a score.
Pennsylvania secretary of state tells counties to separate mail-in ballots arriving after Election Day
As Pennsylvania elections officials await action from the Supreme Court in a dispute over its mail-in ballot extension, the secretary of the commonwealth directed counties to "securely segregate" absentee ballots received between Election Day and November 6 from all other ballots, Pennsylvania's chief deputy attorney general told the high court in a letter Wednesday.
Pennsylvania Republicans have asked the Supreme Court to rule on the merits of a case involving the deadline for mail-in ballots to be accepted. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day will be counted so long as they are received by November 6. Ballots received within that span that lack a postmark or have an unclear postmark must also be accepted, the state's high court said.
The Supreme Court has not yet said whether it will take up the challenge.
2020 election estimated to cost $14 billion
Spending by candidates and groups for the 2020 election is expected to reach $14 billion, according to a new estimate by the Center for Responsive Politics, making it the most expensive election in U.S. history. The presidential election alone is expected to cost $6.6 billion, up from $2.4 billion in 2016.
Biden will be the first nominee to raise over $1 billion, after his campaign broke single-month fundraising records in September and October. The Center for Responsive Politics found that Democratic candidates and groups have spent $6.9 billion, compared to $3.8 billion for Republicans. The number for Democrats falls to $5.5 billion when excluding spending by billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg.
Trump condemns unrest in Philadelphia, says Biden would be "weak" on crime
The president, speaking from his hotel in Las Vegas, commented on the, criticizing the city's Democratic mayor and governor for not doing more to enforce the laws there. He said the federal government is ready to step in at the governor's request.
The unrest began after police shot a Black man, Walter Wallace, on Monday. The city's mayor and police commissioner have pledged an investigation into the incident. Violent clashes have followed for two nights, with roughly 30 police officers reportedly injured on the first night.
The president said the violence had to stop, and claimed without evidence that Biden would be "weak" on crime and criminals.
Biden earlier condemned the violence after he voted in Wilmington, saying there was "no excuse for the looting and the violence."
"None whatsoever. I think to be able to protest is totally legitimate. It's totally reasonable. But I think that the looting is, just as the victim's father said, 'Do not do this … You're not helping. You're hurting. You're not helping my son,'" Biden told reporters, saying his focus as president would be on "how you diminish the prospect of lethal shooting in circumstances like the one we saw."
Biden and Obama to appear together in Michigan on Saturday
Former President Barack Obama will appear alongside his former vice president in Michigan on Saturday to discuss "bringing Americans together to address the crises facing the country and win the battle for the soul of the nation," the Biden campaign said.
Mr. Obama has stepped up his appearances on behalf of the Biden-Harris ticket over the past week, holding drive-in campaign rallies in Pennsylvania and Florida as the race entered its final stretch. Polls show Biden leading Mr. Trump in Michigan, which Mr. Trump won in 2016 by a narrow margin. Mr. Obama won the state in 2008 and 2012, and it had voted for the Democratic candidate in every election since 1988 before 2016.
Joe and Jill Biden vote early in Delaware
Biden his wife, Jill, voted early on Wednesday, following a briefing with public health officials and remarks on the pandemic.
In Wilmington, Biden gave a speech about health care, slamming the president's response to the coronavirus pandemic. He spoke about the importance of wearing a mask in public.
"This is not political. It's patriotic. Wearing a mask. Wear one, period," Biden said.
Biden also criticized Mr. Trump for holding a rally in Omaha, Nebraska, on Wednesday evening, after which some attendees were hospitalized after they were forced to wait in the cold to leave. Biden said it was emblematic of Mr. Trump's whole approach.
"He gets his photo op and he gets out," Biden said.
Wisconsin turnout surpasses 50% of 2016 total
In Wisconsin, more than 1.5 million people have returned absentee ballots in Wisconsin, putting turnout so far at 51.4% of the 2016 turnout, according to the state's official tally. Just under 3 million votes were cast in 2016, when Mr. Trump narrowly won the state by less than a percentage point.
Roughly 293,000 absentee ballots that were requested have yet to be returned, a decrease from about 327,000 that remained outstanding on Tuesday.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer sees "a lot of enthusiasm" for Biden
In anwith CBS News on Wednesday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who is a co-chair for Biden's campaign, expressed confidence about Biden's prospects for winning her state. Mr. Trump narrowly won Michigan in 2016.
Whitmer said that she believed Biden would win Michigan, but cautioned that "we're not taking anything for granted." She noted that people were voting early in person and by absentee in the state, with 2.2 million ballots already received.
"The historic turnout I think we're going to see is really good news for Joe Biden," Whitmer said.
She also argued that the enthusiasm for Biden was at least equal to that for Mr. Trump. Unlike the president's large events where there is limited social distancing and few people wear facial coverings, she said, the Biden campaign was holding events such as drive-in rallies to keep attendees safe.
"I see a lot of enthusiasm for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris," Whitmer said. "I do think that the enthusiasm will be revealed in the sheer number of people that are coming out to vote."
Whitmer spoke to CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast, which will be available in full on Friday.
Trump to close out final hours of campaign with 11 rallies
A senior Trump campaign official told CBS News that in the final week of the election, from Monday, October 26, to Monday, November 2, Mr. Trump plans to travel to 10 states. In the last 48 hours of the 2020 presidential race, he intends to host 11 rallies.
Mr. Trump kicked off the week with two rallies in Pennsylvania on Monday and rallies in Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he'll campaign with supporters in Arizona, and on Thursday, the president will head to Tampa, Florida, for a rally there.
Where the candidates are speaking on Wednesday
Here's the rundown of events for both candidates on Wednesday:
- 11 a.m.: Receives a briefing from public health experts
- Time TBD: Delivers remarks in Wilmington, Delaware
- 3:00 p.m.: Rally in Bullhead City, Arizona
- 5:45 p.m.: Rally in Goodyear, Arizona
More than 71 million have already voted by mail or in person
So far, over 71 million Americans have cast a ballot in the election by mail or early in person. With six days to go before Election Day, turnout totals in the U.S. have reached 51.5% of the 138 million who voted in 2016.
In Texas, vote totals have reached nearly 87% of the 2016 turnout. Hawaii, a more liberal state, has also seen close to 87% of 2016 turnout levels. And Washington, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina and Georgia totals are also above 70%.
The Associated Press, analyzing political data from the firm L2, reported that 25% of the votes are being cast by new voters or by those who vote infrequently. These voters are skewing younger and are less likely to be white.
Michigan judge blocks ban on openly carrying firearms at polling places
A Michigan state court judge blocked enforcement of a directive from Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson that prohibited people from openly carrying firearms on Election Day at polling places, clerk's offices and absent voter counting boards.
Judge Christopher Murray of the Michigan Court of Claims granted a request for a preliminary injunction from gun rights groups, who argued voter intimidation in the state is already illegal and Benson's directive was issued without regard to the state law that governs the rule-making process.
In an opinion issued Tuesday, Murray said Benson's directive was likely issued unlawfully as it did not follow the requirements of the state's Administrative Procedure Act.
"[E]njoining defendant's directive regarding open carry will not harm the public interest in ensuring intimidation free voting, as state laws — laws passed by the legislature and signed by the governor — already provide law enforcement with the tools to stop those whose goal it would be to intimidate voters, whether with or without a firearm," Murray wrote.
The judge said compliance with the state law "is no mere procedural nicety."
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said she intends to appeal the order.
"We intend to immediately appeal the judge's decision as this issue is of significant public interest and importance to our election process," Ryan Jarvi, spokesperson for Nessel, said in a statement.