Pennsylvania Supreme Court Tosses Challenge to Vote-by-Mail Because It Came Too Late

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order Saturday vacating a lower court’s decision to suspend the certification of the state’s vote in the presidential election, holding that a challenge to the state’s vote-by-mail laws had come too late.

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania certified its vote. But Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough blocked further steps to put the certification into effect, and upheld her earlier injunction on Friday, holding that a challenge to the state’s 2019 law allowing “no-excuse” vote-by-mail violated the state constitution. (The challenge was brought by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, among others, and is separate from a case that President Donald Trump’s campaign lost in the Third Circuit in a unanimous three-judge decision on Friday. The campaign has pledged to appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.)

On Saturday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Judge McCullough’s order under the doctrine of “laches,” ruling that Rep. Kelly and others should have brought the constitutional challenge before the primary and general elections in 2020 — not after millions of voters in Pennsylvania had already cast their ballots:

Petitioners filed this facial challenge to the mail-in voting statutory provisions more than one year after the enactment of Act 77. At the time this action was filed on November 21, 2020, millions of Pennsylvania voters had already expressed their will in both the June 2020 Primary Election and the November 2020 General Election and the final ballots in the 2020 General Election were being tallied, with the results becoming seemingly apparent. Nevertheless, Petitioners waited to commence this litigation until days before the county boards of election were required to certify the election results to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Thus, it is beyond cavil that Petitioners failed to act with due diligence in presenting the instant claim. Equally clear is the substantial prejudice arising from Petitioners’ failure to institute promptly a facial challenge to the mail-in voting statutory scheme, as such inaction would result in the disenfranchisement of millions of Pennsylvania voters.4

The only two Republicans on the seven-member court, Chief Justice Thomas Saylor and Justice Sallie Mundy, issued a concurring and dissenting opinion, arguing that while the challenge came too late, it raised serious constitutional objections that should be considered in future elections.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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Trump bid to overturn election stumbles as judge tosses Pennsylvania lawsuit

The lawsuit, spearheaded by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, sought to stop officials from certifying Biden’s victory in the state, arguing that some counties wrongly allowed voters to fix errors on their mail ballots.

Giuliani, who made his first courtroom appearance in 30 years for a hearing in the case on Tuesday, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Biden and Trump campaigns also did not immediately respond to queries.

Giuliani and other Trump lawyers floated a variety of conspiracy theories at a news conference on Thursday as they alleged that the election was marred by widespread voter fraud.

But they have had little success in court.

Trump and his allies have now won two election-related cases and lost 34, according to Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias.

Democrats said Saturday’s scathing verdict was further proof that those charges are false.

“This is what a complete ass-kicking of the president’s legal effort looks like,” Elias, who was involved in the Pennsylvania case, wrote on Twitter.

Giuliani has signalled in legal filings that he will pursue an appeal, but he has little time to do so before the state formalises Biden’s victory on Monday.

“As far as litigation goes I believe this is the end of the line for them,” said Benjamin Geffen of the Public interest Law Centre, who was also involved in the case.

Trump is seeking to invalidate or change the election results through recounts and direct pressure on lawmakers in several states. He would need to prevail in at least three states to prevent Biden from being sworn in as president on January 20 – an unprecedented action.


In Michigan, Republicans wrote to state authorities on Saturday asking them to wait 14 days to certify Biden’s victory to allow for an audit of ballots in Wayne County, which includes the majority-Black city of Detroit. The letter cited allegations of “irregularities” that have not been substantiated. Biden won 154,000 more votes than Trump in Michigan.

That effort faces long odds. A spokesperson for Michigan’s top election authority said state law does not allow for audits before the vote is certified, which is due to take place on Monday. Allegations of widespread fraud have been found to be baseless, the spokesperson said.

Two leading Republican Michigan lawmakers who came to Washington at Trump’s behest said after meeting him on Friday that they had no information that would change the outcome of the election in the state.

In Wisconsin, an official said poorly trained observers for the Trump campaign were slowing a partial recount by challenging every ballot and raising other objections.


“Observers are disruptive. They are asking question after question, telling the tabulators to stop, stop what they’re doing and that is out of line, that’s not acceptable,” Milwaukee County Clerk George Christianson told reporters.

A manual recount and audit in Georgia confirmed Biden on Friday as the winner in the southern state, the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia in nearly three decades.

The Trump campaign has two business days to request a recount in Georgia. Trump’s legal team has also said it plans a lawsuit in the state, but has not provided specifics.

Trump’s accusations have continued to inflame his hard-core Republican base.

Hundreds of supporters gathered at the statehouse in Atlanta on Saturday, with video posted online showing speakers denouncing the media for calling Biden the election winner, as well as state Republican leaders for certifying the results.

Police in riot gear were deployed to separate them from counterprotesters who gathered nearby.

The General Services Administration, run by a Trump appointee, has not recognised Biden’s victory, preventing his team from gaining access to government office space and funding normally provided to an incoming administration ahead of Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.

Critics say the delay and Trump’s refusal to concede have serious implications for national security and the fight against the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 255,000 Americans.

Biden, who has denounced Trump’s attempt to reverse the election results as “totally irresponsible”, spent Saturday meeting with transition advisers and attending church.

Trump took part in a virtual summit of the 20 biggest world economies and then went to play golf at his club in Sterling, Virginia.

Senior Republicans have remained largely silent about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud or have defended his right to seek redress, but several voiced doubts on Friday.

Two Republican sources said a press conference on Thursday at which Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani accused Democrats of engaging in a “national conspiracy” to manipulate vote totals, while conceding that he had no evidence, may have been a turning point for some former allies.

The General Services Administration, run by a Trump appointee, has not recognised Biden’s victory, preventing his team from gaining access to government office space and funding normally provided to an incoming administration ahead of Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.

Critics say the delay and Trump’s refusal to concede have serious implications for national security and the fight against the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 255,000 Americans.


Trump Biden 2020

Understand the election result and its aftermath with expert analysis from US correspondent Matthew Knott. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald‘s newsletter here, The Age‘s here, Brisbane Times‘ here and WAtoday‘s here. 

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On corruption claims, Biden cites facts while Trump tosses unproven allegations

Halfway through the second and final debate of the 2020 presidential campaign on Thursday night, Donald Trump and Joe Biden engaged in a remarkable exchange: The two men went back and forth, each accusing the other of blatant financial corruption, mostly having to do with shady dealings in foreign countries.

Without any fact checker on site to hold Trump or Biden accountable for their statements, any unwitting viewer—say, your average, undecided, non-ideological swing state voter—could be forgiven for thinking they were witnessing a debate between the two most corrupt candidates in American political history, such was the incendiary nature of the allegations being flung across the stage.

But all it would take is a little digging to recognize that most of Biden’s claims against Trump were based in factual reporting and raise serious questions about the integrity of a President who has violated numerous ethical norms during his time in office.

Trump’s accusations against Biden, meanwhile, bore the hallmarks of a politician whose relationship to the truth has proven tenuous at best: more hot air than smoking gun and characteristic of the propagandized, right-wing news environment that envelops the President and huge swaths of his base.

It all kicked off when Biden slammed Trump for his soft stance against foreign governments who are “interfering with American sovereignty”—namely, efforts by Russia and Iran to interfere with the U.S. election, as well as Russia’s bounty program against American troops in Afghanistan. “To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think the President has said anything to Putin about it,” Biden said of the Russian president who Trump has been reluctant to criticize. “Any country that interferes with us will, in fact, pay a price.”

That set Trump off on a line of attack against Biden and his son, Hunter, who has recently been the subject of New York Post reports alleging unsavory dealings with foreign entities in Ukraine and China—articles based on evidence so dubious that at least one journalist at the Post refused to put his name on them.

The President repeated an unsubstantiated claim that Biden “got $3.5 million from Russia”—referring to unproven allegations that a firm co-founded by Hunter Biden once received a payment in that amount from Russian businesswoman Yelena Baturina as part of a “consultancy agreement.” Trump also brought up Hunter’s well-documented ties to Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company whose board he once sat on, despite no evidence of wrongdoing involving Hunter Biden or his father. (It was Trump’s urging of Ukrainian authorities to investigate the Bidens’ ties to Burisma that eventually led to Trump’s impeachment late last year.)

Such is the Trump campaign’s infatuation with Hunter Biden and his business dealings that, before the debate, it organized a press conference for Anthony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter Biden’s who alleges that the former vice president was involved with his son’s Chinese ventures. On Thursday night, the Wall Street Journal reported that it had reviewed corporate records that show no involvement by Joe Biden in any such dealings.

On the debate stage, Biden was quick to brush off the President’s attacks, declaring in no uncertain terms that he has “not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.” And he was happy to return fire—bringing up the President’s “secret bank account in China,” which was revealed for the first time this week in a New York Times report.

Unlike Trump, Biden’s allegations against the President have their basis in fact—specifically, vetted claims, made by a publication of record, which were confirmed by the President’s own attorney. And Biden was also right to note that his own financial dealings are significantly more transparent than Trump’s, as he has released “22 years of my tax returns” to the public while Trump has yet to voluntarily disclose “a single, solitary year.”

“Release your tax returns, or stop talking about corruption,” Biden shot at the President.

Trump, for his part, professed he has “many bank accounts, and they’re all over the place”—not the most convincing defense for any public servant attempting to dispel allegations of financial conflicts. More importantly, Trump lied in declaring that the Chinese bank account in question “was closed in 2015”; in fact, the Times’ reporting indicates that the account is still open, as confirmed by Trump’s own lawyer.

Still, the President was happy to act as though his opponent was the truly corrupt one on the stage Thursday night. Alluding to special counsel Robert Mueller’s costly investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in 2016, Trump insisted to Biden: “I guarantee if I spend $1 million on you, I could find plenty wrong.”

But Biden, speaking from a position of fact, would not be moved. “The guy who got in trouble with Ukraine was this guy, trying to bribe the Ukrainian government to say something bad about me,” Biden said of the President. “The only guy who’s made money in China is this guy.”

More politics coverage from Fortune:

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Donald Trump Tosses MAGA Coronavirus Masks to Rally Crowd in Florida

President Donald Trump on Monday took the stage at a campaign rally in Sanford, Florida, tossing out packaged campaign-branded masks to the crowd.

“It’s great to be back,” Trump told his audience, noting this is his first in-person campaign event since testing positive for the Wuhan coronavirus on October 1.

“It’s great to be back in my home state Florida to make my official return to the campaign trail,” Trump said. “I am so energized by your prayers and humbled by your support. We’ve had such incredible support and here we are!”

The president said the United States had made progress on coronavirus treatments and therapeutics.

“We are going to take whatever the hell they gave me and we’re going to distribute it around the hospitals and everyone is going to have the same damn thing,” Trump said.

The president boasted that he felt great after recovering from the virus.

“I went through it. Now they say I’m immune,” he said as the crowd cheered. “I feel so powerful, I’ll walk into that audience, I’ll walk in there, I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women, and everybody, I’ll give you a big wet fat kiss.”

Matt Perdie

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