Monday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court failed to block an extension of mail-in ballot counting granted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court earlier this month, setting the stage for the state to count ballots for three days after election day whether or not the ballots have a postmark.
The nation’s high court voted 4-4 on the case, which allowed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling to allow the extra days of ballot counting to remain in place. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s three liberal justices to bring the issue to an effective stalemate.
The ruling is considered a win for Democrats, who are expected to vote by mail in greater numbers than Republicans in the state. Republicans have argued that the extension violates the state’s election law, which fixes Election Day as the first Tuesday in November.
Both sides react
“Huge win for Pennsylvania. Trump’s losing streak continues, this time in SCOTUS,” state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, tweeted. “Now let’s have an election.”
The Trump campaign called it a tie. If the Supreme Court were at full strength, it could have easily gone the other way.
The campaign noted that it had won on other disputes related to the election. “We won on ballot harvesting, striking down the Democrats’ top wish list item,” Trump deputy campaign manager and senior counsel Justin Clark said. “We won on naked ballots, ensuring each ballot is protected. We won on ballot cure provisions. And President Trump’s fight for a free, fair, transparent election in Pennsylvania continues.”
“To be clear, the Supreme Court decided not to grant a stay — which does not mean the actions of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would withstand a legal challenge to their judicial overreach should the court hear the case,” state Republican Party chairman Lawrence Tabas said.
It’s unfortunate that the review took place before Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the court–a vote is scheduled in just days.
Could be dire consequences
The significance of monkeying with ballot-counting in Pennsylvania cannot be overstated, since Trump won the state in 2016 by only 44,000 votes and in many scenarios, an Electoral College victory cannot happen without Pennsylvania’s 23 electoral votes.
Not only does this give Democrats three days to cheat their way to victory by manufacturing or gathering more votes if Biden is behind on Election Day, but it could hold up the national election result if the count ends up so close that recounts are triggered.
In the volatile environment of COVID-19 and national protests marked by violence, this Supreme Court vote could have dire consequences for the entire country.
If Pennsylvania becomes the epicenter of election chaos, the blame can be placed squarely on Roberts’ back. Of course, at this point it seems that he belongs in the group who hates Trump so much he’s willing to burn down the entire country to see him lose in November.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.