Justice Alito Orders Pennsylvania to Respond to Trump Campaign Appeal

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ordered Pennsylvania to respond to an appeal by the Trump campaign challenging some votes by Tuesday. Initially, he ordered the state’s lawyers to respond by Wednesday, or Dec. 9, the date known as the safe harbor deadline.

That means that Congress cannot challenge any presidential electors named by this date in accordance with state law, as some Republicans have urged Congress to do.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court threw out the case on Nov. 28.

President Donald Trump’s campaign continued to press lawsuits over Pennsylvania’s election, appealing another case it lost to the state Supreme Court, this time over fewer than 2,000 ballots in a suburban Philadelphia county.

The appeal, filed Friday, is one of at least four pending cases in which Trump or Republicans are trying to throw out certain ballots or trying to upend the entire election, including President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania over Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

The Bucks County case involves 1,995 mail-in ballots in which voters failed to handwrite their name, address, date or some combination of that information on the outside ballot-return envelope, or enclosed their ballot in an inner unmarked secrecy envelope that became unsealed.

The Trump campaign maintains the ballots should be thrown out under state law, although the state Supreme Court, ruling in separate cases from different counties, has refused to do so.

The county election board chose to count the ballots, a decision that was upheld in lower courts. Bucks County’s lawyers contend that Trump’s campaign should not be allowed to appeal and point out that the number of ballots in question are far too few to change the outcome of Biden’s victory of more than 80,000 votes.

Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, have until Tuesday to respond in a case led by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, of northwestern Pennsylvania.

Kelly and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to block Biden’s victory in the battleground state, throw out the state’s year-old mail-in voting law and all the mail-in ballots cast by voters under that law.