Eric Schmitt, Missouri’s attorney general, reportedly led the effort, along with 16 other Republican state attorneys general, to support a Texas lawsuit challenging 2020 presidential election results that had been certified in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, four states where former Vice President Joe Biden won more votes than President Donald Trump.
The first sign that something was fishy was that the Republican attorneys general in Arizona and Georgia, both states won by Biden, did not sign on.
Chris Carr, Georgia’s attorney general, said the Texas brief was “constitutionally, legally and factually wrong about Georgia.”
There have been three recounts in Georgia, and both the Republican governor and Republican secretary of state have said that no voting irregularities or fraud took place in their state.
Technically, the attorneys general were not plaintiffs, as they did not qualify for “legal standing” in the action because they were not directly harmed.
They filed a “friend of the court” brief, sort of like a full-page ad in a national newspaper or a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl directed at the Supreme Court.
Their purpose was to get additional information into the judicial proceeding, and, perhaps more important, to signal to the court and other politicians that they supported the Texas lawsuit.
Because it involved conflict between states, the suit went directly to the Supreme Court.
On Friday, the Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit.
The court said Texas lacked standing to pursue the case, saying it had not demonstrated “a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.”
Some critics of the Texas effort saw it as a PR stunt meant to bring political favor to the Texas attorney general, who faces his own legal troubles.
The Texas suit, and its endorsement, was but another signal that plain old politics is the omnipresent concern of government officials who we once trusted to administer government programs.
Raw, perpetual politics is an epidemic, a cancer on the American political system.
While it was widely expected Trump might not concede the election and recognize Biden as the next president, it is surprising that Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley and other Republican officials have not done so either.
Enough states have certified their results to ensure that Biden will receive more than 270 votes when electoral votes are cast.
Opinion surveys find that about three-quarters of Republican identifiers say the recent presidential election was marred with voting irregularities.
Because courts in several states have concluded there is not supporting evidence for allegations of fraud, Republican voters are likely following the lead of elected Republicans and selective media leaders who apparently wish to please Trump.
Schmitt and other attorneys general should be devoted to the people’s welfare rather than advancing their political interest.
Most citizens would be surprised that the attorneys general are doing politics on taxpayer time and dime.
While the line between politics and official activities can often be difficult to draw, in this case it is simple.
The Texas attorney general, and his counterparts in 17 states, are part of a political campaign. It’s pure politics.
At the national level, the Hatch Act prohibits mixing politics with official actions.
Elected officials are not permitted to seek campaign contributions from their government offices.
Once the campaign is over and they have begun their official duties, elected officials should be required to “punch out” from the official clock and their political party should reimburse their state for time spent on politics.
Similarly, travel, computer use and staff help should be billed to their political account and the state reimbursed.
There are societal consequences for remaining in a state of perpetual politics.
In 2020, the presidential transition was slowed by the refusal of a Trump-appointed agency head to designate Biden as president-elect.
Additionally, planning for controlling COVID-19 and the surrounding economic consequences has been hampered.
There are three important dates remaining in the 2020 election cycle. On Monday, electors meet in respective state capitols to officially cast their state’s electoral votes.
On Jan. 6, electoral votes are officially counted in a Senate proceeding with the vice president presiding.
Two weeks later, Jan. 20, the new, duly-elected president will be inaugurated.
In elections past, these events have been conducted with grace and precision. Sadly, there is concern this year that politics will continue way beyond the time the new president should be recognized and congratulated.
Let’s hope Missouri Attorney General Schmitt and Sens. Blunt and Hawley recognize our duly-elected president, moving on to address the peoples’ concerns.