After their first lawsuit was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and other GOP congressional candidates have appealed to SCOTUS to reconsider and hear their case regarding violation of election rules in Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit contends against Act 77 (signed by Governor Wolf on Oct. 31, 2019) that made voting by mail without any excuse legal in the state. It also allowed voters to submit their ballots up to 50 days prior to the election, and established a “semi-permanent mail-in and absentee ballot voter list.” Kelly argues that the act violates Pennsylvania’s constitution, which requires voters to appear in person to make their vote, and gives an exception to the rule only in specific circumstances.
After their first attempt for immediate injunctive relief to decertify the election results in Pennsylvania was rejected, Greg Teufel, the lawyer for the group, announced that they would be filing a formal petition, a writ of certiorari, to request the court to review their lawsuit.
The U.S. Supreme Court does not accept all cases that come its way. If a party wishes to appeal to the land’s highest court (from a lower court), they must file a writ of certiorari, and if at least four justices agree to review the case, then the court will make a decision to hear it. Teufel’s writ of certiorari was docketed by the court on Dec. 15.
In late November, Commonwealth Judge Patricia McCullough issued a temporary injunction to stop the validation of Pennsylvania’s election results. The judge backed the argument that Act 77 could not bypass the constitution, and that the act should only have been passed after the requisite constitutional amendment.
According to Judge McCullough: “Petitioners appear to have a viable claim that the mail-in ballot procedures set forth in Act 77 contravene PA Const. Article VII Section 14 as the plain language of that constitutional provision is at odds with the mail-in provisions of Act 77. Since this presents an issue of law which has already been thoroughly briefed by the parties, this Court can state that Petitioners have a likelihood of success on the merits of its Pennsylvania Constitutional claim.”
Pro-Trump Republicans have asked that the court invalidate 2.5 million mail-in ballots because they violated the constitution. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, however, rejected the decision, and claimed that since the election was over, it was “too late” as it’d “result in the disenfranchisement of millions of Pennsylvania voters.”
In response, Teufel wrote to the U.S. Supreme Court that they were faced with a no-win situation as “Pennsylvania does not permit electors and candidates to bring substantive constitutional challenges to laws governing the conduct of federal elections. An elector or candidate may not bring a challenge prior to an election for failure to meet standing requirements, and when they do file cases after the election, after the speculation is over and the harm has been committed, it is considered “too late.”
The Republicans have asked the court to declare Act 77 unconstitutional as the state supreme court had, through its decision, made an “unconstitutional” amendment when they allowed the act to sustain.
“When fundamental rights are so plainly violated, the Court must not idly stand by and permit judicial acquiescence in the name of comity. To acquiesce here would allow open defiance of the plain meaning and intent of constitutional provisions,” the petition states.
According to the petition: “President Trump received 2,731,230 in-person votes, 595,538 mail votes, and 50,874 provisional votes. President Trump’s opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, received 1,409,341 in-person votes, 1,995,691 mail votes, and 53,168 provisional votes.”
Petitioners of Kelly v. Pennsylvania (20-810) include U.S. Congressman Mike Kelly, Sean Parnell, Thomas A. Frank, Nancy Kierzek, Derek Magee, Robin Sauter, Michael Kincaid, and Wanda Logan. Respondents include the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania General Assembly, Governor Thomas W. Wolf, and Secretary Kathy Boockvar.