Trump Might Take This to the Supreme Court

But there are hurdles, to say the least
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2020 4:30 PM CST
Here's a Guide to What Happens Next
A supporter of President-elect Joe Biden holds up his mobile phone to display the electoral college map outside the Philadelphia Convention Center after the 2020 Presidential Election is called, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Now that the AP has declared Joe Biden the next US president, what happens? And can President Trump, who is refusing to concede, take this to the Supreme Court? The Wall Street Journal offers a guide: First, states will let campaigns seek recounts or will conduct them on their own (looks like they'll happen in Wisconsin and Georgia). Then states will choose their electors by Dec. 8 based on which presidential candidate won the popular vote. Finally, electors gather and vote in their state capitals on Dec. 14. A new US Congress will count the votes on Jan. 5, and the new president takes the oath of office on Jan. 20. But there are caveats and questions:

  • Electors: For over a century, states have based their electors on the popular presidential vote—but what if they don't? The Washington Post notes that states could change their rules, but doing so after Election Day would violate federal law. That battle could go to the courts and end up in the Supreme Court, where a 6-3 conservative majority would make its ruling.

  • Electors, Pt. 2: Trump allies (like Sen. Lindsey Graham) say state lawmakers could cancel election results if they see possible fraud, and choose pro-Trump electors instead. But in Pennsylvania, the state's Senate and House majority leaders wrote an op-ed saying the legislature has no role "in choosing the state's presidential electors or in deciding the outcome of the presidential election."
  • Lawsuits: Republicans and Trump's campaign have filed a few lawsuits, but the AP reports that "most are small-scale" and "do not appear to affect many votes." Judges in Michigan and Georgia have already dismissed two of the suits. One case at the Supreme Court could exclude ballots that arrived in Pennsylvania after Election Day, but it seems there weren't very many.
  • 'High hurdle': Trump "would have to show that [state] rules are being violated in a very specific way that cause his campaign harm, and that's a really high hurdle," a professor at the London School of Economics tells the Huffington Post. "There's very, very little historical evidence of fraudulent activity in US elections."
  • John Roberts: The AP adds that Chief Justice John Roberts, who tries to keep the high court away from messy politics, "is not likely to want the election to come down to himself and his colleagues."
  • The 'faithless': The Journal notes that individual electors could simply switch sides—it's happened before. But 33 states have "faithless elector" laws that would invalidate at least some of those votes.
  • If Trump won't go on Jan. 20: "Donald Trump as the outgoing president has a contingent of Secret Service," Columbia University professor Robert Shapiro tells LiveScience. "Biden goes to the White House and the Secret Service escorts Trump out. That's what happens."
  • Codenames: The BBC looks at words we'll "hear a lot of," like president-elect, cabinet, and confirmation hearing. More interesting: Biden's codename with the Secret Service is "Celtic," and Kamala Harris apparently picked "Pioneer."
(The Biden team is preparing for legal battles.)

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