MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) - The Texas lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate President-elect Joe Biden's victory has quickly become a conservative litmus test, as 106 members of Congress and multiple state attorneys general signed onto the case even as some have predicted it will fail.
Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, who has represented the state's 6th Congressional District since 2015, was among the GOP members who signed the brief. He was the only Minnesota Republican to sign on.
The last-gasp bid to subvert the results of the Nov. 3 election is demonstrating President Donald Trump's enduring political power even as his term is set to end. And even though most of the signatories are far-right conservatives who come from deep red districts, the filing meant that roughly one-quarter of the U.S. House believes the Supreme Court should set aside election results.
Seventeen Republican attorneys general are backing the unprecedented case that Trump is calling "the big one" despite the fact that the president and his allies have lost dozens of times in courts across the country and have no evidence of widespread fraud. And in a filing Thursday, the Congressional Republicans claimed "unconstitutional irregularities" have "cast doubt" on the 2020 outcome and "the integrity of the American system of elections."
To be clear, there has been no evidence of widespread fraud and Trump has been seeking to subvert the will of the voters. Election law experts think the lawsuit will never last.
"The Supreme Court is not going to overturn the election in the Texas case, as the President has told them to do," tweeted Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. "But we are in bad shape as a country that 17 states could support this shameful, anti-American filing" by Texas and its attorney general, Ken Paxton, he said.
The lawsuit filed against Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin repeats false, disproven, and unsubstantiated accusations about the voting in four states that went for Trump's Democratic challenger. The case demands that the high court invalidate the states' 62 total Electoral College votes. That's an unprecedented remedy in American history: setting aside the votes of tens of millions of people, under the baseless claim the Republican incumbent lost a chance at a second term due to widespread fraud.
Two days after Paxton sued, 17 states filed a motion supporting the lawsuit, and on Thursday six of those states asked to join the case themselves. Trump has acted to join the case, tweeting Thursday that "the Supreme Court has a chance to save our Country from the greatest Election abuse in the history of the United States." Hours later, Trump held a meeting at the White House, scheduled before the suit was filed, with a dozen Republican attorneys general, including Paxton and several others who are backing the effort.
Still, some of the top state Republican prosecutors urging the Supreme Court to hear the case have acknowledged that the effort is a long shot and are seeking to distance themselves from Trump's baseless allegations of fraud. North Dakota's Wayne Stenehjem, among the 17 attorneys general supporting the case, said North Dakota is not alleging voter fraud in the four states at issue.
"We're careful on that," said Stenehjem, who noted that his office has received thousands of calls and emails from constituents asking the state to support the suit. "But it's worth it for the Supreme Court to weigh in and settle it once and for all," he said.
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox called the lawsuit "belated" and said its chances "are slim at best." But Fox supported Texas because he said the case raised "important constitutional questions about the separation of powers and the integrity of mail-in ballots in those defendant states."
Suits brought by Trump and his allies have failed repeatedly across the country, and the Supreme Court this week rejected a Republican bid to reverse Pennsylvania's certification of Biden's victory.
Trump looked straight past the high court loss, claiming it didn't matter because his campaign wasn't involved in the case, though it would have benefited if the case had continued. He has spent the week relentlessly tweeting about the Texas case with the hashtag "overturn" and claiming, falsely, that he had won the election but was robbed.
Officials in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin say the suit is a publicity stunt. More than 20 other attorneys general from states including Minnesota also filed a brief Thursday urging the court to reject the case.
"The people of America - including the people of Minnesota and these four other states - have spoken loud and clear: they have elected Joe Biden," said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. "Unfounded and frivolous challenges to the American people's will have been thrown out in courts across the country. Now, the attorney general in Texas is making a last-ditch, evidence-free effort to undemocratically throw out the votes in states where he just doesn't like the result - regardless of the fact that his own state took the same measures he wants the court to invalidate in other states."
In response to Emmer backing Paxton's lawsuit, Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said it was "appalling that Congressman Tom Emmer would sign onto a lawsuit whose goal is to invalidate the votes of millions of Americans."
"Tom Emmer and numerous other Republican Congressmen and Attorneys General are attempting the closest thing to a coup that our republic has seen in living memory. I am deeply concerned about the damage being wrought by Emmer's efforts to persuade the American people that our elections and, by extension, the United States government are illegitimate," said Martin.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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