On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court unceremoniously dumped the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the election in four states that went for Joe Biden, scuttling the Trump team’s last-gasp legal hope and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ desired role in the effort.
“While I am disappointed that the Supreme Court declined to hear the Texas v. Pennsylvania case, I respect its decision,” Reyes said in a prepared statement Friday evening.
The Texas lawsuit sought to prevent Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from casting their electoral votes for Joe Biden, claiming the states made unconstitutional changes to their elections. The high court ruled Texas lacked standing to file such a suit.
Reyes was the most high-profile Utah Republican to publicly back the lawsuit, originally joining 16 other attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support, then asking to join the lawsuit as a plaintiff.
Reyes had said his motivation was not to overturn the defeat of President Donald Trump but to address the issues raised for current and “future generations.”
He said “if the election was fair, the Supreme Court should say so. If not, it should say that.”
In his statement Friday, he said, “These important questions are not going away and will no doubt come up again. It’s unfortunate we still lack clarity on critical and national constitutional questions that will remain unanswered,” he said.
Reyes’ attempt to join the suit on behalf of Utah was criticized sharply by both Gov. Gary Herbert and Gov.-elect Spencer Cox, who said they were mystified by it and called it an “unwise” use of taxpayer resources. Cox declined to comment on Friday’s Supreme Court ruling.
Reyes pushed back on any notion that he misused public resources in joining the effort.
“Our office participated in this case with transparency, communicating directly with the governor’s staff prior to joining. Because Texas and Missouri drafted the brief language, Utah was not required to spend any time writing. My Solicitor General and I reviewed the briefs before filing. Any notion that we expended a large amount of taxpayer dollars is inaccurate and highly misleading,” said Reyes in his statement.
A spokesperson for Utah’s governor declined to comment on Friday’s ruling, saying Herbert felt his original comments on the issue were sufficient.
The backlash against Reyes prompted an online petition calling for his impeachment that by Friday had reeled in more than 12,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.
“Why is Sean Reyes running around the country trying to throw out votes in other states?” asked Elna Hamp, who first started the petition. “If AGs from other states did that to us, I’m guessing Utahns would be up in arms. We don’t need to meddle where we don’t belong.”
Shortly after the election, Reyes went to Nevada to assist the Trump campaign’s unsuccessful efforts to investigate voting irregularities. He returned with claims, unsupported by any proof, that there was evidence of fraud. Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford criticized Reyes, telling him to “mind his own business.”
The impeachment petition effort will likely go nowhere. The Utah Legislature holds impeachment power in the state, not voters. Besides, Reyes was reelected last month with 59% of the vote.
Ironically, Reyes is one of six electors who will cast Utah’s votes for Donald Trump on Monday when the Electoral College officially meets to decide the winner of the 2020 election. They are committed to vote for Trump, reflecting the election result in the state.
In the U.S. House, 126 Republicans, none from Utah, supported the Texas lawsuit in an amicus brief. That included House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
While he did not officially join those House GOP members backing the legal action, Rep. Chris Stewart had voiced support for Reyes’ efforts in a Thursday tweet.
Sen. Mitt Romney’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the Supreme Court decision Friday, but Romney told CNN’s Manu Raju, “I think the effort to overturn the will of the people is appalling.”
Sen. Mike Lee’s office also did not respond to a request for comment.
Prominent political consultant Steve Schmidt, a Utah resident and founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tweeted his anger at Reyes after Friday’s ruling, threatening to “light him up.”
“His actions crossed an irredeemable rubicon. We will impose political accountability,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt, who resides in Park City, previously threatened to run against Sen. Mike Lee in 2022.