Governor Kim Reynolds would have joined the Texas attorney general's lawsuit seeking to throw out the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia, she announced on December 10. The same day, Reynolds rejected Attorney General Tom Miller's request to sign on in support of the defendants in that case.
Reynolds said in a campaign statement, "As I have said all along, President Trump, his campaign, and supporters have every right to pursue lawful, legal action in the courts. The American people deserve a fair and transparent election.”
Meanwhile, Reynolds and other prominent Iowa Republicans continue to denounce Rita Hart for appealing the second Congressional district result to the U.S. House--a step federal law allows.
REYNOLDS REGRETS MISSING "OPPORTUNITY" TO JOIN CASE
Eighteen Republican attorneys general have joined a brief supporting the meritless Texas lawsuit, and 126 House Republicans (including Iowa's Representative Steve King) have signed a separate amicus brief.
The plaintiffs argue that expanded voting by mail and other election changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic opened the door to widespread fraud, making it impossible to determine which presidential candidate received more votes in the four states being challenged. Naturally, they are not seeking to throw out the results in states that voted for Trump, even when those states--such as Iowa, North Carolina, Florida, Montana, and Texas--allow some of the same voting practices.
Appearing on Jeff Angelo's WHO Radio show on December 10, Reynolds complained that her office wasn't notified about the Texas lawsuit, so "We weren't given the opportunity to sign on in support of that."
Reynolds said her office has "rectified that going forward" and that the state will receive notification in future instances through her office's legal counsel, Michael Boal.
"If this is something that comes up again, they'll be sure to notify Iowa and give us an opportunity to weigh in on it," she said.
I wonder how the governor would feel about another state asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate an Iowa election. Our state's laws have long permitted no-excuse voting by mail, processing absentee ballots before election day, and counting some ballots that arrive after election day, issues Texas cited as grounds to throw out results in states Joe Biden carried.
Legal scholars have widely denounced or ridiculed the Texas lawsuit, with some calling on the Supreme Court justices to refute it thoroughly. Earlier this week, the high court issued a one-sentence order declining to take up a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's election results. But Tom Goldstein of the SCOTUS blog argued that at "this extraordinary, dangerous moment for our democracy," the court must do more in response to the Texas case.
A simple five-page per curiam opinion genuinely could end up in the pantheon of all-time most significant rulings in American history. Every once in a long while, the court needs to invest some of its accumulated capital in issuing judgments that are not only legally right but also respond to imminent, tangible threats to the nation. That is particularly appropriate when, as here, the court finds itself being used as a tool to actively undermine faith in our democratic institutions — including by the members of the court’s bar on whom the justices depend to act much more responsibly.
UPDATE: It wasn't the strong rebuke some hoped to see, but early in the evening on December 11, seven Supreme Court justices declined to accept the case, saying Texas lacks standing to challenge how other states administer elections. Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, held that the court cannot deny the filing of this kind of case, where one state challenges another. However, those two justices "would not grant other relief" to Texas, meaning they would not invalidate elections in other states.
OTHER IOWA REPUBLICANS BACK PRO-TRUMP LEGAL EFFORTS
Republican Party of Iowa state chair Jeff Kaufmann told Radio Iowa on December 10 that the Texas case is not comparable to Hart's appeal of the IA-02 results.
“The results of the second district congressional race have been officially certified by a bipartisan board. The State of Iowa has certified [Mariannette] Miller-Meeks as the winner,” Kaufmann says. “The Electoral College and congress have not officially certified. There are still legal actions that can be taken in the presidential race.”
There is real doubt about who received more votes in IA-02, since many ballots were not examined for voter intent before the state canvassing board certified a six-vote victory for Miller-Meeks.
In contrast, there is no question Biden received more votes than Trump in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia. Nevertheless, prominent Iowa Republicans are on board with stealing a second term for Trump. All 50 states have now certified their presidential election results, and the Trump campaign has lost in court more than 50 times while challenging results in states Biden carried.
To my knowledge, Miller-Meeks has not expressed a public opinion on lawsuits seeking to overturn the presidential election.
During an appearance on the Iowa PBS program "Iowa Press" on December 11, the first Congressional district's Representative-elect Ashley Hinson was asked about the Texas case and whether it's appropriate to challenge another state's election process. She replied, “I think it’s more of a value statement at this point.”
Hinson elaborated on her views during a press call later in the day. Shane Vander Hart reported for Iowa Torch,
“I think we are in a unique position here in Iowa where it is not moving forward, but it is a value statement. I support the President; I believe he deserved re-election. And I believe he has the right to pursue the legal remedies, and we need to let these cases play out.” [...]
“I support the president, obviously, but I was torn about whether I signed onto a lawsuit like this or not. But the point is that states need to make sure that their elections have the integrity that voters expect. And I think that’s what this is, that’s what this lawsuit is about spotlighting the challenges and making sure that that standard is high. So I think when states engage that, that’s what that statement is saying we want every state to be up to this standard,” Hinson remarked.
It's not clear what value is being expressed here, other than considering an election legitimate only when the Republican wins.
Fourth Congressional district Representative-elect Randy Feenstra tweeted on December 10,
In IA, @realDonaldTrump won big, & we have voter ID. This ensures safe and secure elections. This is what the President is fighting for. We need Voter ID across the country to ensure the integrity of our elections. Faith in our electoral process is fundamental to our republic.
ATTORNEY GENERAL AGAINST TOSSING MILLIONS OF AMERICANS' VOTES
Miller's office has been flooded with calls from Republicans demanding that he join the Texas lawsuit. He said in a December 10 statement,
I would not have joined an amicus brief in support of this lawsuit because the 2020 elections were fairly and safely conducted by election officials of both parties. I continue to have faith in the integrity of the U.S. election. I cannot support a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the votes of millions of Americans.
He added that he supports the brief defending the four states for two reasons.
One, the electors clause of the U.S. Constitution provides no basis to second-guess state courts in their interpretation of state law; and two, the states’ common-sense measures taken in response to the pandemic did not introduce widespread fraud.
Under an informal deal Miller and Reynolds struck in 2019, Iowa's attorney general can't join any multi-state legal actions without the governor's approval. So Iowa remains on the sidelines as the high court considers the Texas suit.
Nevertheless, Reynolds accomplished something this week. By demonstrating that she holds no political principle higher than loyalty to Trump, she guaranteed she won't become a target for the outgoing president, as has happened to some other Republican governors or state elected officials.
P.S.-- U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell of New Jersey has called on House leaders to refuse to seat any members "seeking to make Donald Trump an unelected dictator." He cited Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, "written after the Civil War to bar from government any traitors who would seek to destroy the Union."
UPDATE: The Des Moines Register's editorial board argued that Reynolds "shredded her integrity" by backing this "assault on democracy."
When it comes to Biden's victory, Iowa's governor, who has repeated all year that her decisions are driven by "data and metrics," prefers to lend credence to a fantasy.
Many Republicans have been careful to speak only generally about the supposed voting and counting problems, so that none of the debunked or unprovable accusations can be attributed directly to them. They take the supposed high road by talking only of "making sure every legal vote is counted" and "ensuring confidence in the system."
Texas' motion shredded those platitudes. In expressing her support, Reynolds shredded those platitudes, and her integrity.
Full December 10 statement from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller:
'I cannot support a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the votes of millions of Americans'
DES MOINES — Attorney General Tom Miller’s statement on Texas v. Pennsylvania:
"We have been hearing from many constituents expressing support for, as well as against, the Texas attorney general’s lawsuit challenging the presidential election results in four states. Your voices have been heard, loudly and clearly. Your opinions matter to us. As always, we must let the law guide us in making decisions.
"As I have said, I would not have joined an amicus brief in support of this lawsuit because the 2020 elections were fairly and safely conducted by election officials of both parties. I continue to have faith in the integrity of the U.S. election. I cannot support a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the votes of millions of Americans.
"Today my office was asked by another group of states to join an amicus brief supporting the defendants — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia — in the U.S. Supreme Court. I support this brief for its primary arguments: One, the electors clause of the U.S. Constitution provides no basis to second-guess state courts in their interpretation of state law; and two, the states’ common-sense measures taken in response to the pandemic did not introduce widespread fraud.
"In regard to amicus briefs of this type, I am required to get the approval of Gov. Reynolds. We have sought her approval and she has declined.
"Regardless of Iowa’s involvement, the U.S. Supreme Court will give this lawsuit its due attention."
Full statement from Governor Kim Reynolds' campaign:
DES MOINES – Governor Reynolds releases the following statement on litigation concerning the 2020 Presidential Election:
“I have denied Attorney General Tom Miller’s request to join an amicus brief that supports the defendants in the Texas lawsuit.
“While not given the opportunity, I would have requested that Iowa officially join in support of the lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General. As I have said all along, President Trump, his campaign, and supporters have every right to pursue lawful, legal action in the courts. The American people deserve a fair and transparent election.”
Top image: Photo of Governor Kim Reynolds (right) with her predecessor Terry Branstad (middle) and wrestling legend Dan Gable (left) at President Donald Trump's rally in Des Moines on October 14, 2020. Posted on the governor's political Facebook page.