Pennsylvania Supreme Court denies another bid by Trump allies to halt election certification

A GOP congressman’s lawsuit over mail-in voting was dismissed.

November 28, 2020, 9:29 PM

Another court ruling has gone against allies of the Trump campaign in their bid to halt certification of the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania, as the state's Supreme Court issued an order Saturday dismissing a recent court challenge focused on mail-in voting.

This election challenge was brought by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican, along with another GOP candidate for Congress, alleging that the state legislature had not legally passed the measure allowing for universal mail-in voting.

The plaintiffs called on the court to have Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar cancel all mail-in ballots or, if not, to empower the state legislature to appoint new electors. A trial judge on Tuesday had imposed a temporary injunction to pause the election certification process until the question could be resolved. Boockvar's office brought the matter immediately to the state Supreme Court.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated the injunction on Saturday and dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning the GOP cannot bring it back.

Rep, Mike Kelly, R-Pa., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019.
House Television via AP

The court's opinion noted that Kelly had failed to file the constitutional challenge in a timely manner. While the legislature passed a measure to broaden mail-in voting in October 2019, the suit was not filed until a year later -- showing what the court called a "complete failure to act with due diligence."

"Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof," Justice David N. Wecht wrote in a concurring opinion. "Petitioners cannot carry their enormous burden. They have failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted."

Two of the justices agreed with the opinion, but added dissenting voices on the question of whether there may yet be a valid challenge to the use of universal mail-in voting. While that may be, Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor and Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy argued, halting certification at the stage is not the correct remedy.

"Their proposed injunctive remedies will be considered no further," the justices wrote.

Kelly’s attorney declined to comment when reached Saturday.

Mail-in ballots are pictured in Chester County, Pa., Nov. 4, 2020.
Rachel Wisniewski/Reuters, File

The congressman has been expressing his concerns about the election outcome on social media. On Nov. 16, he issued a statement saying the way the election was administered "has caused millions of Americans to lose faith in our electoral system."

The court ruling represents the latest in a series of adverse rulings for President Donald Trump and his allies as they have continued to try and challenge the outcome of the 2020 contest in one of the key swing states.

Speaking by phone to a group of Republican lawmakers gathered in Gettysburg on Wednesday, Trump signaled his efforts to find a friendly hearing in the courts.

"We have to turn the election over," Trump said. "All we need is to have some judge listen to it properly without having a political opinion or having another kind of problem."

President-elect Joe Biden won the state of Pennsylvania by over 80,000 votes. Results were certified by Boockvar and signed by Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday.

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