GOP lawmaker soliciting Republicans to back Supreme Court election suit

Washington — A Republican congressional ally of President Trump is soliciting fellow GOP lawmakers to sign on to a brief with the Supreme Court in support of a long-shot lawsuit filed by Texas seeking to delay certification of presidential electors in four battleground states won by President-elect Joe Biden.

Congressman Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, circulated an email, obtained by CBS News, from his personal account to GOP members Wednesday that asked them to join a friend-of-the-court brief to be filed in support of the effort spearheaded by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Johnson was a vocal defender of Mr. Trump during impeachment proceedings.

“The simple objective of our brief is to affirm for the court (and our constituents back home) our serious concerns with the integrity of our election system,” Johnson wrote. “We are not seeking to independently litigate the particular allegations of fraud in our brief (this is not our place as amici). We will merely state our belief that the broad scope of the various allegations and irregularities in the subject states merits careful, timely review by the Supreme Court.”

Johnson said Mr. Trump called him Wednesday morning “to express his great appreciation for our effort” to file the brief.

“He said he will be anxiously awaiting the final list to review,” the Louisiana Republican said of the president.

The docket for the case indicates the brief has not yet been filed with the Supreme Court.

Johnson said in a statement that most of his fellow House Republicans and their constituents have “serious concerns with the integrity of our election system.”

“The purpose of our amicus brief will be to articulate this concern and express our sincere belief that the great importance of this issue merits a full and careful consideration by the court,” he said.

Paxton, the Texas attorney general, filed his lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court on Monday, alleging officials in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan unlawfully changed their voting laws, leading to election irregularities and skewing the results of the election.

He is asking the Supreme Court to delay the December 14 Electoral College vote and block the four states from casting their votes in the Electoral College for Mr. Biden. The president-elect won the popular vote in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan, and they all have certified their election results, formalizing Mr. Biden’s victory over Mr. Trump.

A group of attorneys general from 17 states filed their own friend-of-the-court brief in support of Texas, while the president filed a motion with the Supreme Court asking the join the case.

Still, the lawsuit was scorned by election officials from the four states named as an unserious effort and waste of taxpayer dollars. It has also been met with skepticism from some GOP lawmakers, including from the very states that support Texas’s attempt to block certification of the Electoral College vote.

Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas told reporters Wednesday the lawsuit was “unprecedented” and expressed skepticism the attempt by his state’s attorney general would be successful. 

“States handle their own election laws and voting, and you can make claims of constitutionality in that state in lawsuits. But I’ve never seen something like this,” he said. “So I don’t know what the Supreme Court is going to do.”

GOP Senator Mitt Romney of Utah called the effort “simply madness.”

“The idea of supplanting the vote of the people with partisan legislators is so completely out of our national character that it’s simply mad,” he told reporters. “Of course the president has the right to challenge results in court, to have recounts. But this effort to subvert the vote of the people is dangerous and destructive of the cause of democracy.”

Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report.