by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
On Feb. 22, the Supreme Court refused to hear two 2020 election-related appeals, falling one vote short of the four needed for the high court to agree to hear the case. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the denial of certiorari, as did Justice Samuel Alito in a separate dissent, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch.
With Joe Biden now a month into his office as president of the United States, Americans may shrug at the court’s decision, but we shouldn’t: The Supreme Court’s abdication of its authority to answer important constitutional questions only encourages further lawlessness by state election officials and courts, undermines voter confidence, and threatens even more chaotic federal elections.
The two cases the Supreme Court rejected on Monday both involved the 2020 election in Pennsylvania and the constitutionality of a state court decision overriding an unambiguous deadline the Pennsylvania legislature established for the receipt of mail-in ballots of 8 p.m. on election night. As Justice Thomas explained in his dissent, “Dissatisfied, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended that deadline by three days. The court also ordered officials to count ballots received by the new deadline even if there was no evidence—such as a post mark—that the ballots were mailed by election day.”
The Republican Party of Pennsylvania and several members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate attempted to challenge the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in the U.S. Supreme Court before the election, but, at the time, the justices refused to expedite the case. …
… Thomas dissented from the court’s denial of the petition for certiorari, calling the court’s refusal to hear the case “inexplicable.” In his dissent, Thomas explained both the problem with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision and why it was imperative for the U.S. Supreme Court to enter the fray.