As I posted a few days ago (see Texas Attorney General Tries to Drag a Kicking and Screaming Supreme Court Into President Trump’s Reelection Fight) Texas has filed a suit against six states where the vote totals from the November election are in dispute. Despite a false start that nearly put me in the position of being wrong, something I really, really don’t like, see BREAKING. Eight More States Join the Texas SCOTUS Case [Taking A Deep Breath] (a DailyKos commenter, back in the 2005 era, once referred to me as someone who would rather pinch off my own head than admit to being wrong…xe/xir was right), my colleague Nick Arama reported last night that 17 states have joined in the Texas lawsuit, see Missouri, 16 Other States Have Now Filed Briefs With SCOTUS in Support of Texas Against Swing States
My colleague Shipwreckedcrew provides insights on what the case is about here: There is a Compelling Theoretical Case Behind the Complaint Texas Wants to File in the Supreme Court.
These are the only two offices where the voting in one state has a direct impact on the voters of other states. For those two offices, do states have cognizable rights to expect that each and every other state will conduct elections for President and Vice President in a manner that guarantees ballot integrity, and a fair and accurate count of the votes?
What recourse do one or more states have in the face of evidence that one or more other states have failed to produce — intentionally or by negligence — an election process and ballot count with integrity?
If the Supreme Court is not a forum where such disputes can be aired and resolved, what forum is there? Congress is controlled by the same partisanship that is said to be the cause of the irregularities at the state and local level.
I would go even further. If states are allowed to arbitrarily and capriciously change voting procedures in such a way that the vote can be manipulated to produce a particular result, do those states even meet the Constitutional requirement of having a “republican form of government?”
What has been sort of surprising to me is that folks on the right who I generally respect are now lining up to belittle the case. Some have even gone so far as to declare the case is ridiculous and that this is nothing more than Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton trolling for a pardon from President Trump. Paxton has been an absolute warrior for life and conservatism and given his success record in the federal courts, that claim is more of an admission of a lack of imagination on the part of the people making it than a reflection on Paxton. Even if you think the case is a long shot, there is no harm in demanding that the world’s leading democracy be able to count votes in a consistent manner so the nation can know who won a f***ing election. There is no harm done to conservatism and a great deal of good done to the Republic my pointing out over and over that the way in which a handful of states carried out their duties on November 3 prevents the nation from ever knowing who actually won. Taking cheap shots at the people fighting the fight that everyone on the right should be fighting is wrong in every way.
[UPDATE: At least two conservative pundits and would-be Vichy-con Ben Sasse have now used the “Paxton wants a pardon from Trump” line so I assume there is a conservative version of “Journ-o-list” cranking out this bon mot.
Shipwreckedcrew provides a lot of reasons why the Supreme Court should hear the case and some reasons why the Court may take a pass. What is obvious, though, is that the case is deadly serious –seventeen other states have joined in. I can’t see a situation where the attorneys general of seventeen states would burn their own professional reputations down by going along with a puerile argument that would be laughed out of court.
I think a lot of professional conservatives just don’t like President Trump’s style. They don’t like going on MSNBC, or whatever, and being asked to defend him. They don’t like going to parties and being made to explain how they can possibly support such a bad, bad man. His tweets and typos embarrass them. All in all, they’d much rather have a President Biden, whom most of them like, than our current bull-in-the-china-shop. And they like losing. In the world of punditry, losing is preferable to winning in every way. You can propose policies, but you never have to defend them in practice. You can point out what’s going wrong. You can rail against illegal immigration and abortion but never do anything or be a part of anything that may upset the sensibilities of your liberal friends who can help you land that cable news contributor gig.
You can show your brilliance by pointing out what the other guy missed while having your side cheer you on. You never, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, ever have to be the Man in the Arena:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Whatever else, President Trump was the Man in the Arena. With him gone, the professional conservatives can get back to the hard work of fluffing Joe Biden, admiring his genteel manner, and criticizing around the edges with no risk to the status quo or to their bottom line.