Ridiculous, But Still Seditious

The attorneys general of Texas and 17 other states run by Republicans are asking the Supreme Court to change the winner of the presidential election in four states Joe Biden won: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If the Supreme Court agreed, the Democratic electors in those four states wouldn’t get to vote for Biden. Instead, the Republican-led legislatures in George, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin would appoint electors who would then presumably vote for Biden’s opponent. Since those four states have 62 electoral votes between them, the Orange Menace would receive 294 electoral votes, enough for him to stay in office another four years. Voila!

The president and his cult have already lost more than 50 lawsuits before both Democratic and Republican judges aimed at changing the results of the election. But, according to the president, this latest lawsuit is “the big one”. It’s always been his hope that the Supreme Court, now overflowing with Republicans (three chosen by him), would come to his rescue if the election didn’t go his way.

In lawyer-speak, there is “no factual or legal basis” for the Supreme Court to intervene in the election. Giving Texas what it’s asking for would amount to a judicial coup d’état. Pennsylvania’s response to the lawsuit says “the Court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated”. It’s not a close call.

In fact, it’s unlikely that the attorneys general of Texas and the other states think they can win. The president may be an ignoramus who lives in a world of his own imagination (he is), so he might think there’s hope. No doubt millions of his supporters believe the Supreme Court will step in and save their hero. But the attorneys general all made it through law school. They’re simply using the Supreme Court to publicly demonstrate they’ll do anything, no matter how preposterous, to back this president and Keep America Great Again.

As an indication of the seriousness of the Texas lawsuit, look at the statistical “evidence” the lawsuit presents (pages 6 and 7 here). They got one of the president’s supporters, who is roughly 80 years old and claims to have a Ph.D.in economics, to state that there was less than a 1 in 1 quadrillion chance (that’s less than 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000) that Biden won even one of the four states, given (1) how far ahead Txxxx was at 3 a.m. on the night of the election and (2) how much better Biden did than Hillary Clinton four years ago. These calculations were based on two absurd assumptions:

(1) Votes counted before 3 a.m. on the night of the election and those counted after 3 a.m. (including on subsequent days) were from identical samples of voters. But, as expected, Democrats tended to vote by mail, which meant their ballots were counted more slowly; and, of course, some jurisdictions count votes and report results more slowly than others. The assumption that “votes are evenly and randomly distributed among geographic regions, demographics, and voting method, so that any two large groups of voters should generate similar results [has been] described as “ludicrous” and “statistical incompetence” by several academics. Kenneth Mayer, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, said “This is going to be used in undergraduate statistics classes as a canonical example of how not to do statistics” [Wikipedia].

(2) Since they were both Democrats running for president, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton should have received roughly the same percentage of votes in the four states. Is it necessary to mention that Biden and Clinton were different candidates running in elections four years apart, and that Clinton ran against a political newcomer, while Biden ran against an incumbent with a disastrous four-year record? Or that the differences between Biden’s percentages and Clinton’s were relatively small — the only significant difference being that he won and she lost?

So, the Supreme Court will either refuse to consider Texas’s lawsuit or dismiss it. This doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Millions of Republican voters, more than a few of whom are either violent or crazy, are counting on the Supreme Court. How will they react when they’re disappointed? (Gosh, I hope they refuse to vote in the Senate election in Georgia — that will show the politicians who’s boss!)

Secondly, hundreds of Republican politicians from around the country have signed on to this lawsuit, all repeating the same stupid arguments in favor of ignoring the votes of millions of their fellow citizens. As Paul Krugman wrote today:

The [Republican Party] has no commitment to democracy, and hasn’t for years. Given the chance to turn America into Hungary, the GOP wouldn’t hesitate for a second.

Some Republicans might hesitate, but it’s clear that one of our major political parties no longer plays by the rules. Their goal is power, and we have no idea how far they’ll go to get it or keep it. 

Note: Now that all the states have certified their election results, the Electoral College will meet on Monday and declare Joe Biden the winner. Thirty-seven days later, he’ll be sworn in. If you’d like to look at the legal documents filed for and against Texas’s suit, they’re available on the Supreme Court site.