Support from U.S. Rep. Ben Cline for a lawsuit to bar Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden has drawn support and opposition in the Valley.
Texas v. Pennsylvania, et al., was filed to block Electoral College votes from Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin to be lodged for the Democrat in the 2020 presidential election.
Without the Electoral College votes from those states, President Donald Trump would have more Electoral College votes, granting him reelection over Biden.
Over half of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, 126 of 196, signed on to an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit.
Among those was Cline, R-Botetourt, who represents Virginia’s 6th Congressional District, which includes Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the lawsuit.
“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections,” the court document from Friday said.
Six of the nine members of the Supreme Court were nominated by Republican presidents — three by Trump.
Cline’s support for the failed lawsuit is to some an affront to democracy, and to others, a justified measure to ensure faith in democracy.
And area leaders of both parties insist their feelings are nonpartisan.
“This is going to sound weird coming from a Republican chairman,” said John Massoud, chairman of the 6th Congressional District Virginia GOP. “There’s a bigger thing here than R versus D — the integrity of the election.”
“This is bigger than parties,” said Alleyn Harned, chair of the Harrisonburg Democratic Committee.
Yet their opinions on Cline’s support for the lawsuit were split and their reasoning different.
Harned said the Trump campaign and other prominent Republicans sowed distrust in the election from the outset with their rhetoric about ballots such as mail-in options.
“It’s extremely damaging to our democracy to campaign against the electoral process, and that’s what this is,” he said of the Texas lawsuit.
Massoud said concerns about election integrity stemmed not from Republicans talking about potential issues before the election, but from events on Election Day itself.
“Here, you have a very large group of people who I’m afraid are losing faith in the integrity of our voting system and that is the really scary thing, because if they don’t have faith in that, you never know what people are going to do,” Massoud said.
Cline declined to discuss his support for the lawsuit, but stood by several posts on his political candidate Facebook page.
On Saturday, the page posted, “Seeking relief from the courts to show evidence of voter fraud is not ‘trying to overturn an election.’” The post later referenced the impeachment of Trump as an act of actually trying to overturn an election.
A Cline post from Thursday said, “I will vigorously defend the right of every American, including the President, to have their day in court. Just as Al Gore and George W. Bush sought redress from the Supreme Court in December of 2000, President Trump should be able to do so today.”
Both Harned and Massoud agreed that objective reviews of election processes are warranted to strive for a better system and yet again, their perspectives differed on how to do so.
“We’re not even talking about ‘change the outcome’ here,” Massoud said. “Everybody has to have faith in the process and right now, very few people I know have faith in the process.”
He said a state review should include results from November’s election as well as how to reduce issues around vote counting and ballot access for future elections.
“We need to do an audit of the entire election system just to find out what was right and what went wrong,” Massoud said.
Harned said a lawsuit such as the one from Texas is not an appropriate way to bring about potential reform because the lawsuit did not have evidence to back it up.
“There’s a reason the Supreme Court denied it,” he said.
Harned said he is not concerned about lawsuits, but about misinformation stemming from the possible court action of accepting a such a highly politicized case without sufficient proof.
“It is still a formal coup on paper,” he said.
Cline’s support for the suit calls into question the congressman’s response to future challenges, according to Harned.
“If he signed up up for this, what’s the next thing he’s going to sign up for?” Harned said.