Trump supporters protest at the state Capitol on Nov. 8, 2020. Many of the protesters were motivated by baseless allegations that Joe Biden cheated to defeat Donald Trump. Photo by Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror
More than a dozen Arizona state and federal lawmakers have filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the Texas attorney general’s attempt to block four key states from giving their electoral votes to President-elect Joe Biden, while Arizona’s attorney general is taking a much more ambiguous approach to the litigation.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the Supreme Court to bar Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from certifying their electoral votes for Biden, arguing that those states illegally changed rules and procedures prior to the election to enact policies expanding voting by mail, largely under the guise of protecting the public from COVID-19. Paxton said absentee ballots are a major source of potential fraud, an allegation that is overwhelmingly disputed by election officials in states with voting by mail, including in Arizona.
The case is widely viewed as a longshot, coming at the tail of dozens of failed lawsuits by Trump and his Republican allies attempting to throw out election results in battleground states that were won by Biden. But that hasn’t stopped the president and many other Republicans who have pushed baseless election fraud claims from throwing their support behind it, including some from Arizona.
Arizona’s Andy Biggs and Debbie Lesko were among 106 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives to sign onto an amicus brief backing Paxton’s request to bar the electors from the four battleground states from casting their votes for Biden.
“Due in large part to those usurpations, the election of 2020 has been riddled with an unprecedented number of serious allegations of fraud and irregularities,” the congressional Republicans’ motion read, referring to widely discredited and groundless claims of fraud that have proliferated since Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
And 13 Arizona state legislators joined with more than two dozen lawmakers from Alaska and Idaho, as well as Idaho’s lieutenant governor, in signing a separate brief with the Supreme Court in support of Paxton’s case that alleged there was a “credible allegations of cabal and oligarchy” by Democrats — including in Georgia, where the governor and top election officials are all Republicans.
“An elite group of sitting Democrat officers in each of the Defendant States coordinated with the Democrat party to illegally and unconstitutionally change the rules established by the Legislatures in the Defendant States, thereby depriving the people of their states a free and fair election—the very basis of a republican form of government,” the brief read.
Arizona state Reps. Nancy Barto, Frank Carroll, John Fillmore, Mark Finchem, Travis Grantham, Anthony Kern, Steve Pierce, Bret Roberts and Kelly Townsend, and Sens. Sylvia Allen, Sonny Borrelli, David Gowan and David Livingston signed onto the amicus brief.
Pierce, a Prescott Republican, doesn’t necessarily believe the election should be overturned or that Biden’s win was illegitimate in the four disputed states, he told Arizona Mirror. But he said the court needs to settle the issue.
Pierce, who’s served in the legislature for nearly a decade, said many of his constituents have serious concerns about the election, and that he’s never received so many emails about something, not even the controversial illegal immigration law SB1070 back in 2010.
“I want some finality. And I think this is a way to do it,” Pierce said. “Honestly, I believe there’s fraud somewhere. I don’t know where it is, where it was. But this is a way to get it examined closer and get people to look at it closer.”
Republican attorneys general from 17 states have signed on in support of Paxton’s case, a list that didn’t include Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Brnovich filed a separate motion asking for permission to file an amicus brief on Wednesday, though he didn’t take a position on the merits of the case nor Paxton’s extraordinary request.
Instead, Brnovich wrote that he will argue two points. First, he’ll argue that “election integrity is of paramount importance,” noting that he has repeatedly gone to court to defend Arizona’s election laws. Second, he said he’ll urge the Supreme Court to act quickly to resolve the matter, if it chooses to accept the case. He took no position on whether the court should accept it.
“It’s important that everyone has faith in the system and the results of the election. The rule of law is about consistency and certainty,” Brnovich said in a press statement. “Our legal filing ensures Arizona’s interests are protected, and I look forward to the Supreme Court addressing these national election concerns.”
Brnovich said he believes Arizona, another swing state that voted for Biden, wasn’t named in the suit because the Attorney General’s Office helped prevent “many of the same troubling and last-minute changes to our state’s election integrity laws.”
While many Arizona Republicans have remained silent regarding the many conspiracy theories and allegations surrounding the general election, Brnovich is among the relatively small number of GOP officials who have spoken out. Barely a week after the election, Brnovich rejected the claims of fraud in an interview with Fox News.
Legal scholars largely describe Paxton’s lawsuit as dubious. Many doubt that Texas has any standing to sue over other states’ election laws and procedures, none of which were struck down by courts prior to the election. Many of the claims in Paxton’s suit have already been rejected by other courts.
Officials from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin slammed Paxton’s case, urging the Supreme Court to reject it as a “meritless” attempt to overturn the election because he doesn’t like the results.
“The Court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro wrote in his response to Paxton.
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