The United States Supreme Court threatens to extinguish a last-ditch effort by Pennsylvania Republicans to block the certification of Joe Biden’s win in the Keystone State.
Trump allies from Pennsylvania requested the justices void the certification and bar Governor Tom Wolf (D) from transmitting the results to Congress.
That request seems likely to peter out.
Two deadlines loom over the dispute. The first is the Dec. 8 “safe harbor” deadline. The second is Dec. 14, when electors will meet to cast electoral votes. Those dates are set in a federal law called the Electoral Count Act.
If a state has finalized its election results by the safe harbor deadline—as Pennsylvania has—the law says that determination “shall be conclusive, and shall govern in the counting of the electoral votes,” meaning Congress must accept their slate of electors.
Alito asked Pennsylvania to file legal papers addressing Thursday’s request by 4:00 pm on Dec. 9, one day after the safe harbor date. It’s not clear that legal challenges to Pennsylvania’s results will be viable at that point.
Republicans will file a final brief on Dec. 10, at which point the full Court would be ready to review the case. That’s just four days before the Electoral College will cast its votes. Four days is enough time for the justices to intervene if they are so inclined—and if they think the safe harbor deadline can be set aside. But it is not unusual for emergency appeals to linger on the docket for days once legal papers are submitted.
Once the Electoral College electors cast their votes, the Trump campaign’s legal challenges will have likely been exhausted.