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Donald Trump Wants the Courts to Declare Him the Winner on Election Night ‘Before All the Votes Are Counted’

President Donald Trump thinks that the winner of the 2020 presidential election should be decided by the courts, not the voters, teasing the idea of a constitutional showdown unlike any the country has seen since 2000.

Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

“We’re counting on the federal court system to make it so that we can actually have an evening where we know who wins, OK,” Trump he told supporters at a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Saturday. “Not where the votes are going to be counted a week later, two weeks later.”

 

The Supreme Court has only chosen a president once.

The slogged-out, ugly 2000 presidential election ended when the conservative-leaning Supreme Court halted vote-couting in perennially messy Florida, handing George W. Bush the Sunshine State’s 25 Electoral College votes and therefore the presidency.

The final margin in Florida was 537 votes. Bush took the Electoral College 271-266 over Democrat Al Gore, the winner of the popular vote.

That decision remains controversial and was seen by may at the time as an attempt by the GOP to disenfranchize voters. “Hail to the Thief,” people jeereded at Bush’s motorcade as it rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day.

The fact that Bush’s younger brother Jeb was Florida’s governor in 2000 sparked suspicions of corruption and foul play.

In 2020, the cirumstances are different. Unlike in 2000, the country is suffering through a pandemic, which is scheduled to collide with flu season and stretch through the election and beyond. COVID-19 has killed more than 200,000 Americans since March, and is easily spread between people in close quarters. With the indefinite closure of schools and other polling sites around the country, mail-in voting is the safest or only option for many Americans.

Trump has been crusading against this process, even though he votes by mail himself, by making false claims about voter fraud. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former Trump megadonor, has been making policy changes at the United States Postal Service intended to delay or prevent the collection and processing of ballots.

Additionally, foreign interference in the election has been welcomed by Trump and may give him even more ammunition in a fight to sidestep democracy.

If any such scenario occurs, and millions of votes go uncounted for weeks, or results are close enough to trigger an array of recounts, a repeat of 2000 is certainly within the cards, especially if the crisis worsens and places further strain on local election systems.

On Sunday, one Democratic lawmaker said Trump’s threat was nothing short of an admission that he and the Republicans intend to cheat, just like many still believe happened in 2000.

“Last night Trump said he wants to use the federal courts to cheat in November by denying Americans’ lawfully-cast mail-in ballots,” Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) tweeted. “This is an open admission that Trump hopes to use the Supreme Court to steal the election.”

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, which has given Trump an opportunity to add another conservative to the bench, has amplified the possibility that any lawsuits challenging a close or contested election that make it to the Court would ultimately favor Trump. Of the eight still-serving Justices, five are conservatives, and six were chosen by two presidents – Bush and Trump – who were elected despite losing the popular vote.

 

 



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