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Supreme Court refuses to take up Trump suit about Wisconsin election results

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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday turned away the final challenge brought as part of Donald Trump's effort to overturn last year's presidential election, bringing an understated close to a legal drama that consumed the nation for weeks.    

Without explanation, the justices declined to hear Trump's challenge to more than 221,000 Wisconsin ballots that Republican attorneys said were counted only because of voting procedures implemented for the pandemic.  

Trump argued election officials erred by allowing voters to submit ballots via drop boxes. He said voters circumvented ID requirements by claiming an exception to the law meant to cover people who are "indefinitely confined." The state's highest court ruled last year that voters could decide for themselves whether they were "confined" by the pandemic.  

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The litigation was one of several high-profile cases Trump brought to the Supreme Court in an effort to overturn an election he falsely asserted had been stolen from him. Even though Trump appointed three of the nine justices – and conservatives hold a 6-3 majority – the high court repeatedly brushed aside pro-Trump efforts to change the election results.

A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

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The case wouldn't have given Trump what he wanted even if he had won. The high court declined to expedite several election-related cases late last year. President Joe Biden was inaugurated Jan. 20 after winning other battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia.  

Trump continues to have enormous sway over the Republican Party, is a possible candidate in 2024 and has used recent appearances to criticize the Supreme Court. Speaking to a conservative political group in Florida late last month, Trump asserted – to applause – that the justices "didn't have the courage to act." 

Biden won the Badger State with more than 20,000 votes over Trump. After a mob of Trump supporters rioted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an unsuccessful effort to block the formal confirmation of the results, Biden was sworn in as president under tight security and COVID-19 restrictions. 

The disputes pending at the Supreme Court focused not on fraud, as Trump often alleged, but on whether states went too far in accommodating voters during the pandemic. In the Wisconsin case, Trump's attorneys argued that many of those accommodations were not allowed by state law.

In response to the election, voting-related bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the USA – some that would expand access to ballots and others aiming to restrict it. Experts on both sides predict lawsuits are inevitable.          

In February, the high court declined to hear a dispute over whether absentee ballots received up to three days after Election Day in Pennsylvania should have been counted in the 2020 presidential election. The court also turned back a separate Trump claim about Wisconsin absentee voting in February. 

In a dissent to the decision to not hear the Pennsylvania case, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas argued the time to settle those kinds of disputes is now.

The "decision to rewrite the rules seems to have affected too few ballots to change the outcome of any federal election," Thomas wrote. "But that may not be the case in the future." 

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