Trump Camp Signals That High Court Is Key to Pennsylvania Hopes

President Donald Trump’s long-shot effort to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his election defeat faces its first test Tuesday with a key hearing in a Pennsylvania courtroom, as his legal team is in disarray and his strategy uncertain.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann will hear arguments at 1:30 p.m. local time on Pennsylvania’s motion to dismiss the Trump campaign’s lawsuit seeking to block certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s projected victory in the state. But no matter what Obama appointee Brann decides, the campaign is pinning its hopes on the high court’s 6-3 conservative majority, which Trump has long hinted should deliver the election to him.

Rudy Giuliani, picked by Trump to lead the president’s post-election legal battles, filed a request with Brann hours before the hearing was set to begin seeking permission to participate in the case in federal court in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Appearing on Fox Business News Tuesday morning, Giuliani said the case was a “vehicle” to get the election before the high court.

“Frankly, this is a case that we would like to see get to the Supreme Court,” Giuliani said, suggesting the campaign might lose battles along the way due to Democratic-appointed judges. “We are prepared in some of these cases to lose and to appeal, and to get it to the Supreme Court.”

But legal experts have largely rejected the idea that the Supreme Court could overturn the election in Trump’s favor, based on the lack of evidence of widespread voter fraud. Lawyers who represented President George W. Bush in his 2000 recount battle before the high court pointed out that election was far closer, with a margin of just 537 votes in a single pivotal state. By comparison, Biden leads in Pennsylvania by about 70,000 votes and would still win the election even if he was denied the state’s 20 electoral votes.

Read More: Trump Has No Path to Win, Says Bush’s 2000 Florida Recount Team

The idea that the case could reach the Supreme Court also seems far-fetched based on the disarray in both the campaign’s legal arguments and its legal team.

The campaign argues certification of the Pennsylvania results should be blocked unless the state tosses out thousands of mail-in ballots from Democratic-leaning counties, but its argument about why that should happen and how many ballots should be rejected has shifted significantly since the suit was filed.

The suit initially focused its claims on the idea that as many as 680,000 mail-in ballots cast in the Democratic strongholds of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh should be invalidated because Republican observers couldn’t adequately monitor the vote-counting process, allowing rampant fraud to go unchecked. But a revised suit filed Sunday abandoned all claims tied to that allegation, and now focuses entirely on claims that some Democratic-leaning counties improperly allowed voters to fix minor errors on their mail-in ballots.

The revised complaint still mentions the issue with observers, and the campaign insists it remains “incorporated” in the suit.

Read More: Trump and Allies Dial Back Voter Fraud Claims After Defeats

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar argues the campaign has failed to state a valid legal claim and wasn’t harmed by the conduct it alleges. She also argues the counties did nothing wrong by letting voters fix some minor mistakes on their ballots. The state’s attorney general, Josh Shapiro, has said the suit is part of a bogus legal strategy based on false claims.

The Trump campaign’s case has also seen a swiftly revolving cast of lawyers. Law firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP withdrew from representing campaign on Friday in the face of a pressure campaign led by Republican anti-Trump group the Lincoln Project. Lawyer Linda Kerns, who took over the case, moved to withdraw on Monday, saying Pennsylvania lawyer Marc Scaringi would replace her.

Scaringi on Monday night asked Brann for more time to prepare for the hearing, given the “significant complexity and importance to the people of the United States of America.”

But Brann denied Scaringi’s request. “Oral argument will take place as scheduled,” the judge wrote. “Counsel for the parties are expected to be prepared for argument and questioning.”

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