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U.S. Supreme Court brings end to another Republican election challenge

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen behind a window in Washington

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday brought an end to another lawsuit related to the Nov. 3 presidential election filed by a Republican former congressional candidate who had challenged the extension of Pennsylvania’s deadline to receive mail-in ballots.

The justices, in a brief order, decided that the dispute was moot. They threw out a Nov. 13 decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia that found the candidate, Jim Bognet, as well as four individual voters, did not have legal standing to challenge the ballot deadline extension.

Bognet, who lost his race for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to Democratic rival Matt Cartwright, and the voters had filed the suit before the election, challenging a Sept. 17 ruling by Pennsylvania’s top court ordering officials to count mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Election Day and received up to three days later.

The high court’s action in the lingering dispute was expected as it has previously rejected many others pursued by former President Donald Trump and his allies related to the presidential election.

Trump, a Republican, lost his re-election bid to Democrat Joe Biden, who took office on Jan. 20. Biden defeated Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania. Trump made false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud and irregularities.

The election dispute in Pennsylvania, like in several other states, involved changes implemented to facilitate voting during the coronavirus pandemic, a public health crisis that prompted a surge in mail-in ballots as voters sought to avoid crowded polling places.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court sided with the state’s Democratic Party and various Democratic officials and candidates who argued that an Election Day mail-in ballot receipt deadline would violate the state constitution’s guarantee of “free and equal” elections given the pandemic and warnings by the U.S. Postal Service over its ability to deliver ballots in time.

The 3rd Circuit in its ruling against Bognet and the voters said that they cannot represent the state legislature, whose power they claimed had been undermined by the state court.

“Because plaintiffs are not the General Assembly, nor do they bear any conceivable relationship to state lawmaking processes, they lack standing to sue over the alleged usurpation of the General Assembly’s rights,” the 3rd Circuit said.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

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