Legislators accomplish little with support of suit

I’m not sure what Republicans in Ohio’s state Legislature were thinking when they urged Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost to get involved in a Texas lawsuit challenging election results in four states that President Trump lost.

Ohio wasn’t among those states. Trump, of course, won Ohio in the Nov. 3 election. In a rare turn to red, Trump also won both Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

Perhaps that’s why state Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, felt empowered by his Mahoning Valley constituency to jump on board with more than 40 Republican members of the Ohio House in signing a letter last week expressing concerns “that Ohio voters are being disenfranchised” by the results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The lawsuit, filed by Texas’ Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, sought to give legislatures in those four states authority to appoint electors to the Electoral College.

But Yost, also a Republican, wasn’t having it. Yes, he did ask the U.S. Supreme Court to accept the case, but not because he sided with the Texas lawsuit’s merits. In fact, our politics reporter David Skolnick reported that Yost filed a legal brief opposing the lawsuit’s merits, arguing that the Supreme Court lacks authority to order state legislatures in the four states to appoint presidential electors.

“The courts have no more business ordering the people’s representatives how to choose electors than they do ordering the people themselves how to choose their dinners.”

It was in the spirit of clarifying law that Yost asked the Supreme Court to hear the case and ultimately rule on whether changes made in the four states prior to the election are constitutional. In essence, he wanted the Supreme Court to take the case to resolve a matter of future law, not to overturn 2020 election results.

“Free and fair elections start with clear rules that don’t change right before the election,” Yost said in the brief. “It is not unreasonable to wonder — and many millions of Americans do — whether those hastily implemented changes exposed the election systems to vulnerabilities.”

In a press release last week, Cutrona also questioned the last-minute changes made by the four states’ executive branches before the election.

“These changes, made outside of the rule of law and outside of the legislative process, have cast a great deal of uncertainty as to the outcome of the election in those states,” Cutrona said. “It is only proper that these changes be analyzed by the United States Supreme Court to determine if they did in fact fall within the scope of law, and, if not, appropriate action must be taken to ensure the sanctity of the election.”

While Cutrona goes on to say the letter sent by Ohio legislators is not about the outcome of the election itself, he does add that if it’s determined the pre-election changes were not legal, they bring potential to invalidate the election results of every other state in the country.

Yost said the Supreme Court should definitively rule on how the Electors Clause of the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted. The provision says legislators, not the executive and judicial branches, set rules for selecting electors.

But at the end of the day, Yost’s brief apparently had little or no impact.

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to take the case, indicating Texas has no legal right to sue other states because it “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”

The high court’s decision triggered vows from Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to keep fighting, and a statement from the Texas Republican Party suggesting secession from the union.

“Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution,” party chairman Allen West said.

Yes, apparently it’s now come to that.


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