Dec. 7, 2020 – PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. Supreme Court moved up a key deadline Sunday for Pennsylvania officials to respond to a last-minute bid by one of Trump’s top boosters in Congress to decertify the state’s elections results.
Previously, Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., who oversees emergency matters arising out of Pennsylvania for the court, had given state election administrators until Wednesday to file their response to the appeal from U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican who has argued that Pennsylvania’s vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional and that every mail ballot cast in the state should be thrown out.
But on Sunday, Alito moved the schedule in Kelly’s case up by a day, ordering state officials to respond by 9 a.m. Tuesday instead.
The difference of just a day is significant given that the previous deadline of Wednesday fell one day after what is known as the “safe harbor date,” the federal cutoff date for states to resolve any remaining election disputes and lock in their slate of electors for the Dec. 14 Electoral College vote.
Many legal observers read Alito’s initial selection of Dec. 9 as a sign that the court had no intention of acting on Kelly’s case in a way that would interfere with Pennsylvania awarding its 20 electoral votes to President-elect Joe Biden.
The new deadline falls on the same day as the “safe harbor date” and now would give the court a few hours Tuesday to act on Kelly’s request if it chooses to do so — though Alito did not offer any explanation for the change in schedule Sunday.