Washington — The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday spurned a request from Republican allies of President Trump to decertify Pennsylvania's election results, foreclosing hopes from Mr. Trump and his backers that the justices would help deliver him a second term in the White House.
In a one-line unsigned order, the high court left intact a decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that tossed out a lawsuit led by Republican Congressman Mike Kelly challenging a 2019 law that expanded mail-in voting in the state.
"The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied," the order said. None of the nine justices indicated a dissent.
Joined by two GOP candidates for federal and state office and five electors, Kelly asked Pennsylvania's highest court to throw out more than 2.5 million votes cast by mail in the state or direct the General Assembly to name its own slate of presidential electors, which the state supreme court said would disenfranchise all 6.9 million Pennsylvanians who voted in the general election.
In their lawsuit, Mr. Trump's allies argued the law, known as Act 77, violated the Pennsylvania Constitution. The law implemented a no-excuse absentee voting system for state and federal elections and was passed with bipartisan support in 2019.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against Kelly and his fellow Republicans on November 28, finding they waited too long to bring their lawsuit challenging Act 77.
"The want of due diligence demonstrated in this matter is unmistakable," the state high court said in its decision, criticizing the petitioners' "complete failure to act with due diligence in commencing their facial constitutional challenge, which was ascertainable upon Act 77's enactment" more than one year ago.
But in their request for intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, Kelly and his fellow Republicans argued the state court's ruling denied them access to judicial relief. Act 77, they claimed, "is the commonwealth's latest attempt to override through legislation the protective limitations on absentee voting contained in the Pennsylvania Constitution."
"Absent intervention by this court, respondents will complete the process of certifying the results of an election, and potentially cast electoral college votes for president and vice president, conducted in a manner which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has long rejected as unconstitutional," they said in their filing with the Supreme Court.
They asked the justices to block state officials from taking further action to certify the results of the November presidential election. Pennsylvania certified its election results late last month, formalizing President-elect Joe Biden's victory over Mr. Trump. States have until December 8, known as the "safe harbor" deadline, to resolve election disputes and determine their electors. The Electoral College then meets to cast votes for president and vice president December 14.
Opposing the request from the Republicans, lawyers for state officials accused them of seeking to "disenfranchise an entire state" and said they are asking the court "to undertake one of the most dramatic, disruptive invocations of judicial power in the history of the Republic."
"They make that request without any acknowledgment of the staggering upheaval, turmoil, and acrimony it would unleash," Pennsylvania officials argued in a filing with the Supreme Court. "In issuing equitable relief, this court rightly seeks to avoid inflaming social disorder. So to say that the public interest militates against petitioners would be a grave understatement. Their suit is nothing less than an affront to constitutional democracy. It should meet a swift and decisive end."
In urging the Supreme Court to reject the request by Pennsylvania Republicans, state officials argued "granting an injunction would sow chaos and confusion across the nation while inflaming baseless concerns about electoral impropriety and ensnaring the Judiciary in partisan strife."
"This case reaches the court against the backdrop of unfounded claims— which have been repeatedly rejected by state and federal courts — that wrongly impugn the integrity of the democratic process and aim to cast doubt on the legitimacy of its outcome," they wrote. "Given that context, the court should not plunge itself into a firestorm by issuing the first ever judicial order decertifying the results of a presidential election."
While Mr. Biden was projected the winner of the presidential election November 7, Mr. Trump has yet to concede and instead has claimed without evidence that millions of illegal votes were cast against him. The president and his campaign have brought lawsuits in several key states, including Pennsylvania, seeking to block certification of election results and invalidate millions of ballots, alleging widespread fraud. But judges on state and federal courts have roundly rejected these claims, finding Mr. Trump's lawyers in most instances failed to present evidence to support their allegations.
States have moved forward with certifying their election results before electors gather next week, and on Friday, Mr. Biden officially secured the Electoral College majority he needed to win the White House. But despite the losses Mr. Trump has racked up in the courts and in states that were crucial to him winning a second term, he has been unrelenting in his efforts to overturn the results of the election.
Mr. Trump summoned Michigan Republican legislative leaders to the White House in what was viewed as an attempt to pressure them to seat their own slate of electors and called Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Saturday. The president has suggested Georgia convene a special legislative session to overturn the results of its election, but Kemp rejected that request. Mr. Trump also called Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler twice to discuss the state's election results and what the state legislature could do to address concerns about the election, CBS News confirmed.