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Misleading narratives after Trump’s Texas lawsuit defeat

After the US Supreme Court on December 11 shot down Texas’s audacious effort to challenge election results in four key states, commentators and politicians advanced several misleading narratives about the judicial system and mused about extraordinary steps that President Donald Trump and his supporters could take in response.

Online users speculated that the court had been compromised, such as in one tweet by the account @3days3nights that read, “How many of our Supreme Court Justices have a [higher] allegiance to the Vatican or Israel or China?” Another tweet from an unverified account with over 117,000 followers read in part, “Trump only has one option left and the question is will he be willing to go that route ? I think he is !” in an apparent reference to invoking the Insurrection Act — a call for domestic military intervention later echoed on Twitter by several verified users, such as Mike Coudrey and Scott Fishman. Similar measures were suggested by Texas’s Republican Party chair, Allen West, who responded to the Supreme Court’s order with a suggestion that Texas and like-minded states secede from the US.

The order dismissing the suit — which rejected Texas’s claim that changes to election rules in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia had harmed the state — was a major blow to Trump. The president had called the case “the big one,” and 19 other state attorneys general had joined the effort led by Texas’s top lawyer, Ken Paxton. Several high-profile Trump supporters have since downplayed the order’s significance, including film actor Terence K. Williams, who insisted, “it’s not over.” Trump later echoed that line, despite the overwhelming skepticism the judicial system has shown to date toward lawsuits challenging the election result. In what might be a final setback for Trump, electors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia meet today to cast votes that will confirm Joe Biden as the next president. — Chris Looft