SCOTUS cowers: “Too hot to handle”

Rather than ruling on the merits of the case, Justices run for the hills.
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OK, the WSJ had it right … and we had it wrong.

Recognizing that they would be caught between a rock and a hard place, the SCOTUS channeled Sgt. Shultz claim (“I hear nothing, I see nothing”) to stay out of the election dispute.

For the record, here’s the first part of the official SCOTUS statement:

ORDER IN PENDING CASE (155, ORIG.) TEXAS V. PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL.

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 manner in which another State conducts its elections.

All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.

The key point: This isn’t a ruling on the merits of the case, i.e. whether there was election fraud and rigging … or not.

The Court just decided to rule on procedural technicalities and leave the merits of the case open for all of us to decide.

Let’s parse the courts statement….

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The 2 key phrases are highlighted above: “lack of standing” and “a judicially cognizable interest.”

The former, “standing”, suggests that Texas — as an individual state — has no right to a hearing. That is, technically speaking, Texas wasn’t harmed … and everybody knows “no harm, no foul.”

The statement is silent on whether  the handful of  states that joined Texas in the motion were collectively harmed.

And, the statement is silent on whether Pres. Trump — who also joined the motion — was individually harmed if the case could be proven on its merits.

Noting the big “if” … surely, the latter is true.

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In plain English, “a judicially cognizable interest” means that the Court is saying that the case is outside of its jurisdiction.

To the contrary, Texas claimed:

This Court is the sole forum in which to exercise the jurisdictional basis for this action.

No court — other than this Court —can redress constitutional injuries spanning multiple States with the sufficient number of states joined as defendants.

Anybody remember when candidate Al Gore was alleged to be illegally soliciting campaign contributions?

In defense, Gore claimed that “there is no controlling legal authority that says that any of these activities violated any law.”

Apparently, SCOTUS internalized Gore’s line of argument: if state courts claim it’s not their job … and SCOTUS can claim that they don’t have “original jurisdiction” and aren’t a controlling authority … then there’s nothing illegal, right?

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Not all Justices concurred with the statement.

There was a second part: a “Statement of Justice Alito, with whom Justice Thomas joins:

In my view, we do not have discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction.

See Arizona v. California, 589 U. S. ___ (Feb. 24, 2020) (Thomas, J., dissenting).

I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue.

Though they explicitly avoid any views on the merits of the case or support for any injunctions while the case were being heard, Alito and Thomas concluded that the case should at  least be heard on its merits.

Trump-appointed Justices Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Barrett thought otherwise.

That should give Dems comfort going forward.

 

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