It’s understandable for Democrats to cower in fear when they hear the words “Supreme Court” and “voting” in the same sentence. Particularly when they spill out of the mouth of Donald Trump.
And I believe Mr Trump will stop at nothing to stop Joe Biden from assuming the presidency.
But this is not Bush v. Biden 2000, and there looks to be little hope Mr Trump’s assorted legal challenges around the country will have any effect on the vote.
Let’s start with his Supreme Court threat. Sputtering with rage early Wednesday morning, Mr Trump declared he would go to the Supreme Court to stop the vote count.
And why not? He just got his handpicked GOP justice Amy Coney Barrett onto the court, and he’d already signalled he wanted her onboard in time for just such a problem. Now is the moment to call in his favour.
Alas, that’s not how it works. Notwithstanding the extraordinary circumstances of the Florida recount in 2000, the Supreme Court is not the country’s election referee. In fact, their ruling in the Florida case came after more than a month of lower court rulings and a political impasse that could not be settled otherwise.
The Supreme Court does not watch over the states’ vote counts. The tallies are independent, statewide affairs, which is why there is such a patchwork of closing times and counting quirks.
Unless there are Constitutional issues of law to be considered, the Supreme Court does not want to get involved. All the more under the current Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is more loath than his predecessors to get mired in any electoral squabbles.
In the days before the election, for example, two Supreme Court rulings, which were seemingly contradictory, were in fact affirmations of state rules and regulations that the court did not feel was their place to change. That’s not good news for Mr Trump.
Mr Trump can thunder all he wants about voter fraud and doctored ballots, but even if he were to produce such evidence (so far he hasn’t) it would have to first work its way through state courts.
In fact, the Trump campaign is already in several battleground states. In some states, he wants the courts to stop counting. In others, he wants the courts to enforce counting.
The challenge potentially involving the most votes is over Pennsylvania’s acceptance of ballots received after election day but postmarked by November 3 – precisely the case that the Supreme Court refused to hear.
Elsewhere, the claims – even if successful – could not impact any more than a few hundred ballots, and that’s nowhere near enough to change any results. And he has yet to produce any concrete evidence of ANY fraud, let alone anything widespread or substantial enough to change the outcome in any state.
Lastly (for now anyway) Mr Trump has already asked for a recount in Wisconsin, and will no doubt do the same in other states. There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, it’s a fairly common request.
But the chances for success are always slim. In Wisconsin, he’s down by 20,000 votes; the 2016 recount there produced a change in just 131 ballots. Those are not good odds.
There was much talk in the weeks and months before the election about the Trump team’s democracy-destroying stop-the-vote operation.
I’ve always had my doubts. Mr Trump to me is more buffoon than Bond villain. That he could mount such a multi-fronted operation flew in the face of his shambolic presidency. Yes, you can hire good lawyers, but he never did. Just look at Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani.
Indeed, at this stage, Mr Trump’s court challenges have a perfunctory and performative air. They are dispiriting and cynical, but no one seems to be taking them seriously. Unless Mr Trump’s lawyers find ample evidence of systemic fraud, it seems inevitable the vote counts will stand.
But it’s not over yet.
Larry Hackett is the former editor-in-chief of People magazine, and a contributor to the US morning television news program Good Morning America