Minnesota's Republicans in Congress on Friday lined up firmly behind a Texas lawsuit that sought to subvert the results of the presidential election but which was tossed out by the U.S. Supreme Court by the end of the day.
GOP U.S. Reps. Pete Stauber and Jim Hagedorn added their names to Rep. Tom Emmer's and a lengthy list of fellow House Republicans in backing the now-moot court challenge. It sought to invalidate President-elect Joe Biden's 62 Electoral College votes in four swing states.
Even before the Supreme Court's late Friday dismissal, the lawsuit's chances were seen as very small, and some prominent Republican and conservative voices are decrying ongoing efforts by President Donald Trump and allies to overturn an election that the Republican clearly lost.
But many in the GOP, including Minnesota's most prominent Republican officeholders, got behind the legal ploy on behalf of Trump.
"Election laws across several states were amended or suspended in the closing months of the 2020 election by acts of state officials and courts, not state legislatures," Hagedorn said in a statement Friday. He urged the high court to consider the case "to ensure that all U.S. citizens are treated fairly and the election was conducted in accordance with state laws."
The original brief Emmer signed Thursday had 106 House Republican signatures before an additional group joined on Friday. Stauber explained in a post on Twitter on Friday that his name had not yet appeared on the list of signers because of a "clerical error in the filing" but added that it would be fixed soon.
Minnesota's Republican Rep.-elect Michelle Fischbach, too, has spoken in support of Trump's baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr, among others, has dismissed fraud as a determining factor in the outcome of the presidential race.
Still, Minnesota's GOP delegation was joined by more than half of the House Republicans, including their top two leaders, Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, in calling for the Supreme Court to set aside the will of the people.
The congressional Republicans claimed that "unconstitutional irregularities" have "cast doubt" on the 2020 outcome and "the integrity of the American system of elections."
As even some Republicans distanced themselves from the attempt, Democrats have been pitched in their denunciations. "A thinly veiled coup attempt" is how Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin described it Friday.
Election law experts were certain the lawsuit would not last. "The Supreme Court is not going to overturn the election in the Texas case, as the President has told them to do," tweeted Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. "But we are in bad shape as a country that 17 states could support this shameful, anti-American filing" by Texas and its attorney general, Ken Paxton, he said.
Paxton singled out Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in his suit filed this week that repeats disproved allegations about mail ballots and voting in those states. The suit and the amicus brief Minnesota's GOP congressmen signed argues that officials in those states illegally circumvented their legislatures to change election rules ahead of Election Day.
Minnesota and nearly two dozen other states — including several led by Republican governors — also filed briefs to the high court against the Texas litigation. Shortly after doing so Thursday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison called the lawsuit an "evidence-free effort to undemocratically throw out the votes in states where [Trump] just doesn't like the result."
Trump failed to flip Minnesota in last month's election, losing by more than 233,000 votes. But 15 GOP state lawmakers wrote Paxton to ask him to add Minnesota to the list of states in his lawsuit. Signatories include state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, a Big Lake Republican whose Senate elections committee grilled Secretary of State Steve Simon over his administration of the election earlier this week.
Some of the GOP lawmakers who called for Minnesota to be sued were also part of an unsuccessful effort to urge the Minnesota Supreme Court to stop certification of Minnesota's election results.
Instead, Biden's victory has since all but been locked in after states approved their election results ahead of a federal "safe harbor" deadline earlier this week. The Electoral College convenes Monday to officially cast its votes.
Biden defeated Trump by 306 electoral votes to 232.
Though acknowledging publicly that claims of widespread fraud "have not held up under scrutiny or in the courts," Kiffmeyer has led critiques of Simon's agreement to extend the counting deadline for absentee ballots and waive witness requirements in response to pre-election lawsuits that cited the pandemic.
Kiffmeyer signaled that at least one more hearing about the election could take place this month.
In the meantime, accusations and rhetoric aimed at the Democratic secretary of state continue. The GOP lawmakers' letter to Paxton that asked him to add Minnesota to his lawsuit asserts that Simon "knowingly and deliberately conducted an illegal election by virtue of his manipulation of the law."
In a legislative hearing earlier in the week, Simon called the election "a great big success on multiple levels." He said the GOP-led effort to discredit the results in Minnesota is part of a "national tidal wave of disinformation, politically inspired lies designed to mislead and manipulate people."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Stephen Montemayor • 612-673-1755