PA GOP Queues Up First Post-RBG Election Dispute For SCOTUS

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 04: Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Elena Kagan, are seen during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber on Tuesday, February 4, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 04: Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Elena Kagan, are seen during President Donald Trumps State of the Union address in the House Chamber on Tuesday, February 4, 2020. (Photo ... UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 04: Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Elena Kagan, are seen during President Donald Trumps State of the Union address in the House Chamber on Tuesday, February 4, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 22, 2020 6:06 p.m.

In a sign of how critical Pennsylvania is to the Republican Party’s election litigation strategy, the state GOP wants the U.S. Supreme Court to review a state case that opened up absentee voting, while the Trump campaign is seeking to revive a federal lawsuit targeting Pennsylvania’s plans for pandemic voting.

The indication Tuesday that the U.S. Supreme Court will be asked to get involved in the state court case marks the first time the high court’s intervention will be sought since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Democrats and Republicans have been engaged in a multi-front court battle over several aspects of Pennsylvania’s absentee voting process.

Last week, in a lawsuit brought by Democrats, the state Supreme Court okayed Pennsylvania’s plans to set up ballot drop boxes and it upheld the state’s requirement that poll watchers reside in the county they are assigned to. It also ruled that election officials should count ballots that arrive in the three days after the election.

The Pennsylvania GOP as well as the Republican leaders of its legislature indicated on Tuesday that it would appeal that decision — and particularly its extension for the receipt deadline for absentee ballots — to the U.S. Supreme Court. The notice came in requests to the state Supreme Court that it put its opinion on hold while U.S. Supreme Court review is sought.

Tuesday’s filings, which were first reported by the Hill, argue that the state Supreme Court’s opinion violates the Election Clause of the U.S. Constitution by allowing ballots to be counted after Election Day even if they lacked postmarks confirming they were sent by then.

Democrats filed the state court dispute to head off a federal lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign and the RNC that took aim at the drop boxes and the poll watcher residency requirements. The lawsuit had been put on hold while the state Supreme Court decision was pending. The federal judge, a President Trump appointee, has since jumpstarted the case.

That case too provides Republicans the opportunity to drag the U.S. Supreme Court into the fight over Pennsylvania’s election tules. It is continuing to request that the federal court block the use of “unmanned” ballots boxes, and to declare unconstitutional the residency requirement for poll watchers.

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