As the court was dismissing the Pennsylvania case on Tuesday, a second election case came before it, an audacious lawsuit filed directly in the court by Texas against four other states. It asked the justices to extend the Dec. 14 deadline for certification of presidential electors.
The suit, filed by Texas’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, said Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had engaged in election irregularities that require investigation, and it asked the court to “enjoin the use of unlawful election results without review and ratification by the defendant states’ legislatures.”
Legal experts called the suit preposterous. “It looks like we have a new leader in the ‘craziest lawsuit filed to purportedly challenge the election’ category,” Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, wrote on Twitter.
The Constitution gives the Supreme Court “original jurisdiction” to hear disputes “in which a state shall be party.” In such cases, the Supreme Court acts much like a trial court, appointing a special master to hear evidence and issue recommendations. Though the Constitution seems to require the court to hear cases brought by states, the court has ruled that it has discretion to turn them down and often does.
When the court does exercise its original jurisdiction, it is usually to adjudicate disputes between two states over issues like water rights. In 2016, the justices turned down a request from Nebraska and Oklahoma to file a challenge to Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana. The states said the Colorado law had spillover effects, taxing neighboring states’ criminal justice systems and hurting the health of their residents.
Texas asked the justices to put its case on an exceptionally fast track. The court did not adopt the state’s proposed schedule but did call for responses by Thursday.
In a blog post, Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, called the Texas filing a “press release masquerading as a lawsuit.”
Alan Feuer contributed reporting from New York.