Washington — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a last-ditch lawsuit in the Supreme Court against four key states won by President-elect Joe Biden, alleging they unlawfully enacted changes to their voting laws that led to election irregularities and skewed the results of the presidential election.
Paxton, who is facing accusations of bribery and abuse of office, is asking the Supreme Court to extend the December 14 deadline for the states' certification of presidential electors to allow for investigations into the alleged irregularities. He also wants the court to block the use of "unlawful election results without review and ratification by" the states' legislatures.
Paxton filed his suit against Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan, all of which have certified their election results and formalized Mr. Biden's victory over President Trump. Mr. Biden was projected the winner of the presidential election November 7 and has begun the transition process, but the president refuses to concede.
The Supreme Court has set a deadline of 3 p.m. Thursday for the four states to file a response before weighing in on the case.
Mr. Trump lauded Texas's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, calling Paxton's case "very strong." The president also filed a motion with the Supreme Court to intervene in the case, arguing Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia together have enough electoral votes to affect the result of the vote in the Electoral College and that he "clearly has a stake in the outcome of this litigation."
"This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory" Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday.
Similar lawsuits brought by Mr. Trump's campaign that alleged widespread election fraud and sought to block certification of election results have been rejected, with federal and state court judges finding no evidence was put forth to bolster claims that illegal votes were cast.
Seventeen states also filed a brief in support of Texas' lawsuit: Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.
In his challenge to election results in the four battleground states, Paxton claims government officials used the coronavirus pandemic to alter their election rules, "weakening ballot integrity." He also alleges they "flooded" their states with ballots to be returned by mail or in drop boxes while loosening signature verification and witness requirements. As a result of these efforts, Paxton claims the election results are "illegitimate."
The attorneys general of Michigan and Wisconsin chided the lawsuit as an unserious effort that is without merit.
"The motion filed by the Texas Attorney General is a publicity stunt, not a serious legal pleading," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. "The erosion of confidence in our democratic system isn't attributable to the good people of Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia or Pennsylvania but rather to partisan officials, like Mr. Paxton, who place loyalty to a person over loyalty to their country."
Nessel noted the issues pertaining to Michigan raised in Paxton's lawsuit have been both litigated and rejected by state and federal courts.
"Mr. Paxton's actions are beneath the dignity of the office of Attorney General and the people of the great state of Texas," she said.
Wisconsin Attorney Josh Kaul said the state Justice Department intends to "defend against this attack on our democracy."
"I feel sorry for Texans that their tax dollars are being wasted on such a genuinely embarrassing lawsuit," he said in a statement. "Texas is as likely to change the outcome of the Ice Bowl as it is to overturn the will of Wisconsin voters in the 2020 presidential election."
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, praised Paxton's legal effort, responding "for courage & brilliance!" to a tweet proclaiming "God bless Texas."
The Constitution grants the Supreme Court "original jurisdiction" in cases "in which a state shall be party," which allows such disputes to be brought directly to the high court. In fact, when states cannot settle their disputes, the Supreme Court is the only court with the authority to adjudicate the case, according to the Legal Information Institute. In instances where the Supreme Court exercises its original jurisdiction, it acts as a trial court and typically names a "master" to hear evidence and make recommendations on a decision.
The Supreme Court seldom executes its original jurisdiction, according to the Federal Judicial Center, issuing opinions in just 123 "original" cases between 1789 and 1959. Most of the original cases filed have involved disputes between two or more states and typically deal with boundary and water disputes.
It's unclear how quickly the Supreme Court will consider Paxton's request, as December 8 is the deadline for states to resolve election disputes and determine their electors.
Adam Brewster contributed to this report.