Trump and his allies have now lost over 50 post-election lawsuits: a staggeringly unsuccessful track record that reflects how flimsy – and often entirely confected – their complaints about election fraud and other supposed irregularities have been.
Since well before the election even took place, Trump has held out hope that the Supreme Court would come to his rescue and deliver him victory – as it did for George W. Bush in 2000.
Explaining why it was important to move quickly to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Trump pointed to his concerns about the surge in demand for postal ballots. “I think this will end up in the Supreme Court, and I think it’s very important we have nine justices,” Trump said in September.
But even a 6-3 conservative majority on the nation’s most powerful court could not overcome the fundamental weakness of the case brought by Texas’s Republican Attorney-General Ken Paxton.
Remarkably, 18 other Republican-led states joined in the suit which, if successful, would have invalidated the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania – four swing states that narrowly voted for Biden.
From the start, Paxton’s lawsuit was widely viewed as doomed to failure. His case essentially amounted to a rehash of fraud claims that had already been dismissed by judges in the relevant state courts.
And the notion that Texas could invalidate the election results in other jurisdictions clashed with a central tenet of American democracy: it’s up to states to run their own electoral systems.
That’s why Republican Senator Ben Sasse dismissed the case as a “PR stunt” and John Cornyn, a Republican Senator from Texas, said he struggled to understand the “legal theory” of the case.
The justices of the Supreme Court announced their decision not to hear the case in a brief 126-word statement. Their brevity underlined how unserious they found it.
The Supreme Court ruled that Texas had a “lack of standing” – meaning it had no legal basis to complain about the election results in other states.
Even worse for Trump, the three judges he appointed to the court – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett – all voted to dismiss the case.
Two other conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, said they would have heard the case but would not have supported overturning the results.
It’s a refreshing sign that facts and evidence still retain some power in Washington, despite how partisan and dysfunctional American politics have become in recent years.
Trump has still not conceded defeat, and probably never will. But his last, best shot, at clinging to power has vanished.
Matthew Knott is North America correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.