While President Donald Trump wants the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a presidential race that is still too close to call, it may not be the final arbiter in this election, legal experts said.
They said it was doubtful that courts would entertain a bid by Trump to stop the counting of ballots that were received before or on Election Day, or that any dispute a court might handle would change the trajectory of the race in closely fought states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.
With ballots still being counted in many states in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Trump made an appearance at the White House and falsely declared victory against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Trump railed against voting by mail during the election campaign, saying without providing evidence that it led to fraud, which is rare in U.S. elections. Sticking to that theme, Trump said: “This is a major fraud on our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.”
Trump did not provide any evidence to back up his claim of fraud or detail what litigation he would pursue at the Supreme Court. Later in the day, his campaign filed to intervene in a case already pending at the Supreme Court seeking to block late-arriving mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania.
The Trump campaign and other Republicans have also filed various complaints in other states, including an attempt to stop votes being counted in Michigan.
However, legal experts said that while there could be objections to particular ballots or voting and counting procedures, it was unclear if such disputes would determine the final outcome.
Ned Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University, said the current election does not have the ingredients that would create a situation like in the 2000 presidential race, when the Supreme Court ended a recount in George W. Bush’s favor against Democrat Al Gore.
“It’s extremely early on but at the moment it doesn’t seem apparent how this would end up where the U.S. Supreme Court would be decisive,” Foley said.
Both Republicans and Democrats have amassed armies of lawyers ready to go to the mat in a close race. Biden’s team includes Marc Elias, a top election attorney at the firm Perkins Coie, and former Solicitors General Donald Verrilli and Walter Dellinger.
Trump’s lawyers include Matt Morgan, the president’s campaign general counsel, Supreme Court litigator William Consovoy, and Justin Clark, senior counsel to the campaign.