After losing the election over a month ago, President Donald Trump continues his efforts to overturn the results, while Congressional Republicans are doing very little to oppose his attacks on democratic institutions. Instead, many are throwing their support behind the president’s circus of "proof," either for their own self-interest or as some form of aggressive partisanship, the results of which will surely come down to the erosion of voting rights nationwide.
Even if Trump doesn’t succeed at his attempted coup, the Congressional Republicans publicly helping him will remain in office after Trump’s tenure comes to an end. And there are a lot of them. On Thursday, 106 House Republicans led by Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson signed on to a brief with the Supreme Court in support of a lawsuit filed in Texas against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The lawsuit filed by Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton claims, without evidence, that officials in these states illegally changed their voting laws in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in President-elect Joe Biden’s win, and that the votes should be tossed out. Paxton, who is under investigation by the FBI for alleged bribery and abuse of office, asks that the Supreme Court delay the Electoral College’s December 14 vote and block the four states from casting their ballots in favor of Biden.
The fact that more than half of House Republicans would throw their weight behind such an egregious lawsuit is perhaps unsurprising, if not alarming. “With one of our political parties trying to overturn the results of a free and fair election,” we are closer to democratic erosion “now than we were before the election, or a year ago,” Susan Stokes, the director of the Chicago Center on Democracy at the University of Chicago told The Atlantic. Republicans “have been going down that road all through Trump’s term, but this is the parting gift, which is more extreme than what has happened before.”
Unfortunately, the 106 House Republicans backing Trump’s latest flimsy effort to overturn the election aren’t the only ones supporting his attacks. Earlier this week, 18 state attorneys general filed their own brief in support of Paxton’s lawsuit, a majority of the 25 Republican attorneys general nationwide. In Georgia, a battleground state lost by the president, Republican Attorney General Chris Carr called the lawsuit “constitutionally, legally and factually wrong,” only to receive a call from Trump warning Carr not to rally other Republicans against the suit.
Meanwhile, Trump has received the support of such GOP Senators as Texas Republican Ted Cruz, who agreed to argue the case, and Georgia’s two Republican Senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who have also endorsed the lawsuit. It also received praise from Missouri’s Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who has been floated as a possible 2024 presidential contender.
Trump won’t likely succeed in his efforts to remain in control of the White House, and the Republicans backing these attempts might even believe the same. For now, the Electoral College is scheduled to deliver Trump a loss next week, as he takes his legal battles all the way to the Supreme Court. But whether or not Trump is successful, the Republicans joining his chorus of lies — that the election results are invalid only because your party lost — present a slippery slope, and risk setting a dangerous precedent for the future of voting rights.