Republicans want the US Supreme Court to review a state court ruling in Pennsylvania that extends the period for polling locations to receive and count mail-in ballots, potentially positioning the high court to deliver its first ruling since the death last Friday of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favour of Democrats on three separate rulings related to the state’s election processes this year. Those rulings:
- removed the Green Party candidate from Pennsylvania’s presidential election ballot;
- allowed the state to deploy more mail-in ballot drop boxes; and
- has allowed election officials to count mail-in ballots that arrive within three days after Election Day, as long as the envelopes are post-marked on Election Day.
Republicans revealed their legal strategy to ask the US Supreme Court to review the state court’s ruling on the appropriate period for counting mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania through court filings from late Monday night and early Tuesday morning, filings that were first reported by The Hill.
The GOP has argued that the state court’s ruling could lead to election officials counting ballots that were not sent in by Election Day.
"The court's judgment ... creates a serious likelihood that Pennsylvania's imminent general election will be tainted by votes that were illegally cast or mailed after Election Day," the Republicans wrote in their Monday filing.
The GOP has asked for a stay of judgment from the state court while it asks the federal high court to review the case.
The decision facing the Supreme Court is crucial.
In 2016, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the Keystone State by just 44,292 votes out of more than 6m cast, a margin of just 0.72 per cent.
The race appears to be close again in 2020.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has led in virtually every survey in the state throughout the summer, but Mr Trump’s support has largely stayed within most polls’ margin of error.
As for the Supreme Court, it now tilts even more conservative than it already did.
Republican presidents have appointed five of the eight current justices, all of whom are generally considered conservative, although Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W Bush appointee, has voted with the liberal bloc on several key occasions in recent years.
With the death of Justice Ginsburg, whom Mr Trump has called an “amazing lady,” only three Democratic president-appointed justices remain: Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor (Obama) and Stephen Breyer (Bill Clinton).
Mr Trump has said he will nominate Justice Ginsburg’s replacement on Saturday and that it will be a woman.
Senate Republicans have vowed to vote on Mr Trump’s nominee by the end of the year.