Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, hopes to hand Vice President Pence sole authority to call the 2020 election.
A Republican representative from Texas has signed aboard an unusual, long-shot lawsuit intended to dislodge Joe Biden’s electoral victory—by suing Vice President Michael Pence.
According to CNBC, the lawsuit was filed earlier this week by Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, along with eleven Arizona residents nominated to serve as that state’s Republican Party electors.
The case, says CNBC, comes but a week before Vice President Pence is scheduled to oversee a joint session of Congress during which the Electoral College’s votes will be tallied and finalized. While electors have already submitted their ballots—putting Biden over President Donald Trump, 306 to 232—some die-hard Trump supporters believe they can still snatch victory from the jaws of resounding defeat.
To that end, Gohmert and the Arizona electors have asked federal Judge Jeremy Kernodle—himself a Trump appointee—to decide whether Pence has the “exclusive authority and sole discretion” to determine which electoral votes from which states should be counted towards the 2020 election results.
CNBC notes that some pro-Trump electors have “symbolically cast their own ballots.” But political experts have said such symbolism carries no legal weight.
In effect, the lawsuit intends to force Pence into acknowledging that he may have the power to upturn the election in Trump’s favor.
“The Constitution expressly designates defendant Pence as the individual who decides which set of electoral voters, or neither, to count,” Gohmert wrote in the suit.
Gohmert’s complaint contained echoes of far-fetched conspiracy theories, alleging, in part, that “public reports” have “highlighted wide-spread election fraud” in several battleground states.
However, Gohmert’s lawsuit—like the many others which have attempted to salvage Trump’s presidency—has little legal standing. Edward Foley, professor and director of the election-law program at The Ohio State University, said Gohmert’s interpretation of the Constitution is flawed, insofar as it would create an obvious conflict of interest for any vice president.
“I would think that the court would dismiss it quickly because the idea that the vice president can control the counting of a state’s electoral votes is inconsistent with the intent of the relevant constitutional provisions,” Foley told Bloomberg.com. “That kind of self-serving power is not what was in mind.”
Nevertheless, there’s a good chance Gohmert won’t be the only Republican in Congress hawking conspiracy theories come January. President Trump himself has refused to publicly concede defeat and has even attacked conservative legislators for not doing enough to salvage.
Some House Republicans have stated that they will publicly challenge the Electoral College counts on January 6th. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has urged members of his caucus not to interfere with the process.