The U.S. Supreme Court declined to fast-track remaining legal challenges to Pennsylvania’s election results on Monday, underscoring the justices’ reluctance to wade into widely discredited Republican arguments for reversing the outcome of the 2020 vote.
The decision did not dismiss the election challenges outright and kept them alive for the justices to potentially take up in the future.
But Monday’s orders — along with denials for expedited consideration in several other election-related cases arising from states such as Wisconsin and Georgia — pushed those considerations until after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20.
In the event that the court decides to consider any of the cases after that, it would likely only do so in terms of their implications for future elections.
For instance, one of the cases affected by Monday’s decisions, brought by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R., Pa.), seeks to overturn Pennsylvania’s vote-by-mail law, passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature in 2019 and used without objection in earlier elections.
The court had already refused to fast-track an earlier petition in that case.
Other cases denied expedited hearings Monday include the Trump campaign’s Dec. 20 petition asking the court to overturn several key rulings made in the run-up to the election by Pennsylvania’s highest court, which it argued usurped the authority of the state legislature to set election deadlines and rules.
The justices also refused early consideration of a case that arose out of Centre County on whether private foundations could offer financial support to counties’ election infrastructure. The Pennsylvania Voters Alliance, the group that brought that case, challenged grant funding that certain counties received from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The money was meant to defray election expenses, but the Voters Alliance argued it unfairly favored Democratic candidates.
A U.S. District Court judge in Williamsport had earlier found their arguments unpersuasive, and the Voters Alliance had asked the Supreme Court to take up the case before a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, citing the then-upcoming election and postelection deadlines in their need for haste.
None of the cases involved in Monday’s court orders contained any specific allegations — let alone evidence — of votes being deliberately cast illegally. Instead they took issue with Pennsylvania’s processes for the casting and counting of ballots from legally registered voters.