Will the Supreme Court Hear the Texas Case if the State Files It Differently?

On December 11, the Supreme Court rejected a Texas lawsuit that challenged Joe Biden’s victory in four battleground states. A widely shared social media post, which shows a screenshot of a tweet, however, is claiming the following: “Texas and/or other states can re-file their cases against WI MI PA GA with the correct terms as ‘motion to file the bill of complaint’, and their cases will be heard by SCOTUS.”

The claim that if Texas refiles the lawsuit as a “motion to file the bill of complaint” the Supreme Court will hear the case, is false. 

The rejection from the Supreme Court did not say there was an issue with how the case was filed, but rather stated that “The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution. Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”

The reason the Supreme Court denied this claim, explained Rebecca Green, law professor and co-director of the election law program at William and Mary, “was not because of the title of the motion, it was because the plaintiff’s lack of standing.”

“It’s a very fundamental principle of the American system, that one state cannot sue another state because they don’t like how their elections are run,” said Green.

A statement from Justice Alito and Justice Thomas says that they believe the court does not have the “discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction.” The statement continued by saying that they would “grant the motion to file the bill of complaint, but would not grant other relief.” 

The statement, however, does not change the court’s stance. “They could call it anything they want,” Green said, “but it wouldn’t change the fact that the Supreme Court made it clear they were not going to hear claims of this nature.”

Green also said that “it’s not about whether the case has merit.” The justices were clear that they would “not grant other relief,” even if they took the case. 

The full statement from Alito and Thomas reads as follows: “In my view, we do not have discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction. See Arizona v. California, 589 U. S. ___ (Feb. 24, 2020) (Thomas, J., dissenting). I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue.”  

Similarly, Rick Hasen a professor of law and political science at the University of California-Irvine, said in an email to The Dispatch Fact Check that: “The claim was not rejected because of the format in which it was styled. It was rejected because at least seven justices found that Texas had no standing. And even the two justices who would have let Texas file its suit would have denied all preliminary relief, like stopping the states from holding their electoral college votes.”