10 attorneys general file brief rebuking Pennsylvania Supreme Court over election problems
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November 12, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A group of 10 Republican state attorneys general filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court on Monday, urging the court to reverse a decision by the Democrat-dominated Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which allowed mail-in ballots to be received in the state three days after Election Day, even without a postmark.
This coalition is supporting a pending case filed by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and is led by Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt, who released a statement the same day providing a summary of the brief.
The filing argues:
[T]he Pennsylvania Supreme Court overstepped its authority and encroached on the authority of the legislature in ruling that ballots received three days after election can be accepted, including ballots with an illegible postmark or no postmark at all. Second, that voting by mail can create risks of voter fraud, including in Pennsylvania. And lastly, that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision exacerbated these risks of absentee ballot fraud.
In support of the first argument, Schmitt quotes the brief asserting that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision:
(1) admitted that the Legislature’s Election Day deadline was unambiguous, (2) conceded that the Election Day deadline was constitutional on its face, (3) relied on the slimmest of evidentiary rationales for its decision, (4) departed its own prior holding on the exact same question just a few months earlier, and (5) disregarded an admirably clear severability clause that was enacted by the Pennsylvania legislature for the very purpose of preventing Pennsylvania courts from making such post-hoc changes to Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting system.
Citing the brief, Attorney General Schmitt goes on to provide several sources that “illustrate the risks of voter fraud in mail in voting and absentee ballot voting” along with numerous examples — including in Pennsylvania — where even candidates and office-holders were convicted for such crimes.
Schmitt next quotes the brief to illustrate how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision “exacerbated the risks” of mail-in voter fraud:
First, it created a post-election window of time during which nefarious actors could wait and see whether the Presidential election would be close, and whether perpetrating fraud in Pennsylvania would be worthwhile. Second, it enhanced the opportunities for fraud by mandating, in a cursory footnote, that late ballots must be counted even when they are not postmarked or have no legible postmark, and thus there is no evidence they were mailed by Election Day. This decision created needless vulnerability to actual fraud and undermined public confidence in a Presidential election.
In further support of their arguments, Schmitt cites the brief’s reference to a recent case in Missouri where the court concluded that “fraud in voting by mail is a recurrent problem, that it is hard to detect and prosecute, that there are strong incentives and weak penalties for doing so, and that it has the capacity to affect the outcome of close elections.”
During last week’s election, incumbent President Donald Trump was leading challenger Joe Biden in Pennsylvania by 700,000 votes on Election Night. Then the mail-in balloting over the next several days poured in and somehow allowed Mr. Biden to open up a modest margin. He later declared victory.
Further reports reveal how Pennsylvania secretary of state, Kathy Boockvar, made two last-minute changes in how ballots in her state would be processed, which, according to state Republican leaders, amounted to her “most recent efforts to weaken the state’s voting system and damage the integrity and confidence in our elections.” As a result, in a statement released on Election Day, they called for her immediate resignation.
Prior to the election, in October, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania filed a motion in the United States Supreme Court for an emergency stay of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, but it was denied. In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito warned that “[t]he Court’s handling of the important constitutional issue … created conditions that could lead to serious post-election problems.”
In addition, he identified that at the heart of this case was that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had “issued a decree that squarely alters an important statutory provision enacted by the Pennsylvania Legislature pursuant to its authority under the Constitution of the United States to make rules governing the conduct of elections for federal office.”
In a recent interview on this topic, former prosecutor and solicitor general of the United States Ken Starr agreed. He called the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in this matter a “constitutional travesty.” Paraphrasing the position of Justice Alito, he affirmed that “[w]hat the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did is utterly unconstitutional.”
Joining Attorney General Eric Schmitt in his amicus brief are Kentucky A.G. Daniel Cameron, along with the A.G.s from Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Florida.
Schmitt closes his statement affirming the importance of this case. “Free and fair elections are a cornerstone of our republic and make the United States the envy of nations across the globe. To keep those elections free and fair, we must ensure that every legal vote is counted and every illegal vote is not. To not do so would disenfranchise millions of Americans.”
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