Donald Trump and his supporters have filed over 50 lawsuits challenging various aspects of the 2020 presidential election. None has succeeded in establishing fraud or election impropriety. Most have been dismissed for lack of competent evidence by federal and state judges with backgrounds in both political parties, including recent Trump appointees to the federal bench.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had the bright idea of conglomerating many of the discredited claims and conspiracy theories from those suits into one package and pitching it to the U.S. Supreme Court. So, on Dec. 7, commonly known as the day of infamy, he asked the court to allow him to challenge the election results in four other states. It was not a military attack on the U.S., as occurred in 1941, but an attack on the very foundation of the federal system gifted to us by the Founding Fathers.
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a conservative Texas Republican, correctly critiqued Paxton’s frivolous gambit as a “dangerous violation of federalism” that would set “a precedent to have one state asking federal courts to police the voting procedures of other states.”
Another Republican, Ohio Attorney General David Yost, told the court that Paxton’s request would “undermine a foundational premise of our federalist system: the idea that the States are sovereigns, free to govern themselves.”
As soon as Paxton filed his claptrap motion, Republican officials across the country jumped on board to support his poisonous attack on our constitutional system. Donald Trump, 17 other state attorneys general and over 100 members of the U.S. House pledged their support for the idea of allowing states to legally challenge the internal laws and practices of other states.
Idaho politicians are among those who heedlessly flocked to support the effort—Gov. Little, Congressmen Simpson and Fulcher, and scads of state legislators. Apparently, it did not bother them that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of Texas would set a dangerous precedent for interstate conflict.
Luckily, the Supreme Court saw Paxton’s move for what it was—a last-gasp political stunt with absolutely no legal merit. Texas had no standing or legal grounds to pursue a case.
Which brings us to consider the Idahoan who has shown himself to be a clear legal thinker and true profile in courage. Much like the kid who pointed out that the emperor was unclothed, Lawrence Wasden has stated the un-varnished truth about this shameful charade.
Wasden stated: “As Attorney General, I have significant concerns about supporting a legal argument that could result in other states litigating against legal decisions made by Idaho’s legislature and governor. Idaho is a sovereign state and should be free to govern itself without interference from any other state. Likewise, Idaho should respect the sovereignty of other states.”
To illustrate Wasden’s concerns, let’s consider an existing situation with our western neighbors. Washington and Oregon seem to believe that Idaho is doing a wretched job of fighting the coronavirus and that we have allowed the disease to spread over the border, infecting their people. If states could challenge the legal decisions of other states, couldn’t those states ask the Supreme Court to force Gov. Little to impose a mask mandate? State sovereignty would not mean much if Paxton were to prevail.
Shame on Idaho’s politicians who mindlessly jumped aboard Paxton’s wacko move to gut the federalist foundation of our government. Thanks to Attorney General Wasden for having the courage and wisdom to stand up for federalism and the rule of law.
Jim Jones is a former Idaho attorney general and chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court. He hired Wasden as a deputy attorney general in 1989.