The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to hear cases related to last year’s presidential election and Donald Trump’s challenges to its outcome.
The justices declined to take up a case brought by Republicans challenging a Pennsylvania state court decision that extended the deadline to receive ballots in the election by three days due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The court rejected Trump’s lawsuit against President Biden over the counting of absentee ballots in Wisconsin.
And the justices also turned away a Georgia case, brought by Trump ally Lin Wood, over mail-in ballot requirements.
In the Pennsylvania case, the justices turned away appeals by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and Republican members of the state legislature of the ruling by the state’s top court ordering officials to count mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Election Day and received up to three days later.
At the center of America’s new domestic terrorism threat is the seed of doubt that Trump has implanted in the minds of millions of Americans that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged”.
It is the “animating lie”, as the former homeland security official Juliette Kayyem has put it, that drove the mob to storm the US Capitol and that now hangs in the air like a toxic gas.
Trump’s campaign to overturn the results of the presidential election amounted to a “big lie” familiar to those who study demagogic propaganda.
Embedded within it are many of the core elements of what the Yale historian Timothy Snyder has called Trump’s post-truth, “pre-fascism”.
The lie was simple – able to be repeated and shared on TV and social media in six short words: “They stole the election from me.” That “they” was important too – by signaling a clear enemy, it allowed his supporters to direct their frustration and anger at identifiable targets.
Trump lashed out repeatedly at the media, which he denounced as the “enemy of the people”.
He attacked “cowardly” Republican election officials who refused not to do their jobs, his own vice-president, and finally the heart of US democracy, Congress itself.
For Bandy X Lee, a forensic psychiatrist and violence expert, there was another key aspect to the “stop the steal” big lie – it was rooted in paranoia.
In her analysis, paranoia, perceiving threat where none exists, is the most common symptom to cause violent behaviour.
“The fact that Trump actually believes himself to have been wronged and persecuted, or has paranoid ideations, spreads and finds resonance in paranoia that already exists in the population. That will increase the chances of violence,” Lee said.
Trump’s final act of disrespect to American democracy.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly refused to get involved in these election cases.
Both before and after the election, Trump and his supporters tried to get the Supreme Court to throw out the three-day extension on counting ballots.
On Oct. 19, the justices deadlocked 4-4 on a request for a stay that would have blocked the three-day extension.
And, in December, the justices turned down a bid by Republican Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania to decertify Biden’s win in the state.
Biden won the state by more than 80,000 votes. The dispute concerned just 9,428 ballots out of 6.9 million cast in the state.
The Supreme Court already had rejected a Republican request to block the lower court ruling.