Paxton Sues Four States that Went for Biden to Distract from Own Legal Woes, Experts Say

Ken Paxton speaks at the Partnerships to Eradicate Human Trafficking in the Americas at the 2019 Concordia Americas Summit in Bogota, Colombia.
Ken Paxton speaks at the Partnerships to Eradicate Human Trafficking in the Americas at the 2019 Concordia Americas Summit in Bogota, Colombia. Gabriel Aponte / Getty Images
Texas Republicans sure do love President Donald Trump, and each day party leaders find new ways to express it.

The latest conservative to pucker up and kneel is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who on Tuesday sued four swing states with election results that helped deliver President-elect Joe Biden his win. The lawsuit alleges Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin each used the pandemic as an excuse to unlawfully alter their election rules.

Legal experts say the U.S. Supreme Court probably will not hear Paxton’s case, calling the lawsuit “not meritorious,” “crazy” and “wacko.”

“This probably falls under the definition of something close to a frivolous lawsuit,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University.

While the effort may not buy Trump another four years in the White House, political experts believe it could keep Paxton out of jail. The attorney general faces felony securities fraud charges and separate allegations that he used his office to do favors for a political campaign donor, according to The Texas Tribune. The Associated Press reported that the FBI is investigating the latter accusations.

Paxton’s personal legal woes have prompted some to speculate that he’s currying favor with Trump to win a pre-emptive pardon.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a Democrat, took to Twitter to call Paxton's move a "publicity stunt."
Other commentators also took the time to weigh in.

“This is not a lawsuit. This is a request for a pardon,” stand-up comedian Steve Hofstetter said in a tweet.
“The Texas AG Ken Paxton — who offered $1 million if anyone could come up with evidence of voter fraud — now files a lawsuit suing other states in [an] effort to help Trump overturn the election. Why? Simple he wants a pardon from Trump for his apparent crimes,” wrote lawyer and CNN opinion columnist Dean Obeidallah.
Yet Rice's Jones said that instead of a presidential pardon, Paxton is likely looking to secure another Republican primary win in March 2022. The lawsuit will bolster the attorney general’s race because he can argue that he had fought for the outgoing president in court. At the same time, he’ll try to slam challengers for being “part of a Democratic-inspired witch hunt.”

Paxton’s effort is the latest in a series of unsuccessful moves by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the presidential election. So far, none of the dozens of lawsuits filed by Trump associates — many of which baselessly claim widespread voter fraud — have made much legal headway.

The attorney general’s lawsuit is also likely to face swift dismissal by the Supreme Court, said Kimi King, a political science professor at the University of North Texas who specializes in judicial decision making. While King said she’s not surprised Paxton is taking that position, the window for the president to see success in the federal courts is quickly closing.

“This probably falls under the definition of something close to a frivolous lawsuit." – Mark Jones, political science professor

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“[Paxton’s] decision to file this case at this late of an hour certainly creates challenges for its litigation success,” King said. “Aside from the fact that it’s not clear the Texas state attorney general has standing to bring this lawsuit (it’s not clear what injuries the citizens of Texas have suffered), there is also an issue of timely filing for an expedited appeal.”

Plaintiffs must have standing when they bring a case to court, meaning they have to prove they’re the correctly titled injured party in the lawsuit, King said. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear it, Paxton will be tasked with arguing that Texas citizens were harmed by the ways that Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin held their respective elections.

It could be a hard sell, and time is running out. Under federal law, the states' presidential electors will meet and vote on Dec. 14.

Monday, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state recertified its election results following a recount there, according to the Tribune. Its deputy secretary of state, Jordan Fuchs, said in a statement that Paxton’s allegations are “false and irresponsible.”

Michigan’s attorney general also called his move a “publicity stunt,” saying Paxton’s actions are “beneath the dignity” of his office.

Meanwhile, the New York Post reported that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz offered to represent Trump allies in a Pennsylvania lawsuit, which was later rejected by the Supreme Court. Cruz offered his services after the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was hospitalized on Sunday for COVID-19.

With displays of devotion this grand, Trump could likely secure a lifetime presidential appointment here if the Lone Star State ever gets around to seceding. Make Texas Great Again?
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Simone Carter, a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer, graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter