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Supreme Court Rejects Texas' Lawsuit Over Election Results

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The U.S. Supreme Court tonight shut down President Trump's 11th-hour attempt to block Joe Biden's election as president. Trump's hopes hinged on a lawsuit brought by Texas that sought to invalidate the election results in four key states - Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. But in a three-sentence order, the court said Texas has no legal standing to sue another state on these grounds.

Joining us now is NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. And, Nina, can you start with those three sentences? What did they say?

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: The court said that Texas has no legal grounds to complain about how another state conducts its elections. And the justices therefore said essentially, you can't even come here with this suit. In other words, in this country, election laws are governed by state and local laws unless there's some federal exception. And so the court said that Texas had not suffered any injury. After all, Texas and all the states that were supporting it, the Republican-controlled states that were supporting it, they got to cast their votes the way they wanted, and they couldn't complain about how another state conducted its elections in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Michigan.

CORNISH: Did any of the justices dissent?

TOTENBERG: Well, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said that for procedural reasons, they thought that Texas should be able to at least file its suit in the Supreme Court. But beyond that, they wouldn't have given Texas anything else that it wanted.

CORNISH: Nina, if this was such a slam dunk that it took the Supreme Court about a day to decide to do nothing, why did Texas file the suit? And why did 17 Republican attorneys general file a supporting brief? And I guess I should also follow with, why did more than half the Republican members of Congress do the same thing?

TOTENBERG: Well, let's start with Attorney General Paxton, Ken Paxton of Texas. There's been a lot of speculation because he's under indictment for securities fraud, is being investigated by the FBI on other charges that perhaps he is looking for a pardon because interestingly, the solicitor general of Texas who signs all of Texas's briefs to the Supreme Court, usually - the solicitor general of the state did not sign this brief.

As to the other attorneys general, we know from a variety of reports that President Trump talked to several of them because they were all meeting in Washington, trying to get them to support this brief. In addition to that, you know, attorneys general frequently are going to run for another office. They may want to be governor someday. So this was good politics. And that's probably the same reason that the majority of the Republican members of the House of Representatives did the same thing.

CORNISH: What happens next?

TOTENBERG: Well, the Constitution tells us what happens next. The members of - the delegates of the Electoral College meet from every state and in every state to cast their ballots as they were voted upon by the people of that state. And one would have to note that the - in these four states, not only was there a recount in every one of these states, there were audits. There were dozens of challenges in court, none of which came to fruition in any way and that the attorney general of the United States, Mr. Trump's own attorney general, said there was no evidence of any kind of massive fraud.

So they will meet - all of them - on Monday. And they will cast their votes, and Joe Biden will become the president-elect formally of the United States. And he will then be sworn into office on January 20. Now, of course, this is Trump land. We - you never know what could happen next. So I'm not going to say never.

CORNISH: That's OK.

TOTENBERG: Never say never when it comes to Trump.

CORNISH: Yes. That's NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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