How the Supreme Court committed an egregious dodge on the 2020 election

On December 11, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the Texas suit by ruling that Texas did not have standing, or the right to sue.  SCOTUS dodged the substantial constitutional issues just as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dodged the substantial constitutional issues in the Kelly/Parnell case by dismissing it for laches.

SCOTUS ruled:

The State of Texas's motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution. Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the way another State conducts its elections.

The way Pennsylvania and the other four states conducted the election for president of the United States affected all fifty states because Pennsylvania and the other three states conducted the election for president in an unconstitutional manner.  This diluted the votes in states like Texas that followed the Constitution.  Texas filed suit because it is a presidential election.  By stating "the manner in which another State conducts its elections" (emphasis added), the Court seems to believe that the way Pennsylvania conducts elections affects only Pennsylvania, as if the election in Pennsylvania involved only local elections.

But Texas was litigating a presidential election.

SCOTUS did not even cite any legal authority, such as a Supreme Court case, to justify dismissing on standing.

Justices Alito and Thomas, the two dissenters, relied on the clear language of Article III of the Constitution, which states that  the Court shall have original jurisdiction.  It is not discretionary, but mandatory, because if the Court declines to take the case, then the state has no remedy to sue.

Standing means that the plaintiff has the right to file suit to redress an injury or claim.

The Supreme Court test for standing in federal court is as follows:

  1. The plaintiff must have suffered an "injury in fact," meaning that the injury is of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent.
  2. There must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct brought before the court.
  3. It must be likely, rather than speculative, that a favorable decision by the court will redress the injury.

Moreover, President Trump filed on December 9 a Motion to Intervene in the Texas suit because he has an interest in the case.  President Trump suffered a direct injury: he lost.

The Court did not explain why Texas does not have standing.

SCOTUS could redress the problem by ordering the four states to follow the Constitution as requested in the Bill of Complaint filed by Texas, and joined by about 20 other states, over 130 congressmen, and President Trump.  A favorable decision would resolve the injury.

The Court issued a brief order, not signed by any justice, but agreed to by the three Dems, Roberts, and the three Trump appointees.   Only Justices Thomas and Alito had the courage to state that the Court should at least take and hear the case.

It is difficult to understand why Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett did not want to hear the case.  They are supposed to follow the written text of the Constitution as textualists.

If the Court had taken the case, then it would have had to decide the merits of the constitutional arguments, and there would be a majority and a minority opinion.  This would require each justice to state the reasons on the merits of the case.

Our country deserved a decision on the merits to have a definitive ruling that Biden either was elected in a constitutional manner or was not. 

You do not have to be a constitutional attorney to understand that the Court took the easy way out and did a disservice to our country.

The easy way out was to dismiss for standing, just like as the Pennsylvania Court dismissed for laches.  The judges in both cases did not want to deal with the real substantive issues.

Image: Tom Hilton via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.