It was oddly refreshing to hear the words Florida Attorney General’s office, Ashley Moody, appeal attorneys used, in recently posted emails, to describe the Texas Attorney General’s desperate attempt to overturn the results. of the 2020 elections by pursuing four swing states. in 2020.
“Weird,” said one of them.
“Bats – don’t go crazy,” wrote another.
Honesty. Wow. We had forgotten what it looked like in Florida, with Ron DeSantis as governor and his boss, Donald Trump, lurking behind the scenes.
Not that lawyers offered these assessments publicly. They were discussing the case in emails that would not have materialized except that they had been obtained by American Oversight, a progressive-leaning group that requests public documents from governments and then published by the Miami Herald / Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau.
And it wasn’t that their words made a difference at the time. A day after the attorneys had this discussion, Moody signed on to Florida to support this same lawsuit. Because no claim is too extreme, no lawsuit too ludicrous for Florida if there is any potential for a GOP victory or a chance to appease Trump.
Overturn the election
The complaint was filed on the finest of legal grounds. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in December 2020, claiming voting “irregularities” in those states had hurt Texas. He wanted the legislatures of the four states – all controlled by Republicans, of course – to decide how their state votes in the Electoral College. (Joe Biden won all four states.)
The costume immediately gained national attention – and was just as quickly labeled a waste of taxpayer dollars. Lawyers at Moody’s office – they worked for the Solicitor General, in the Florida Attorney General’s office – were alerted by an email from Deputy Solicitor General Evan Ezray. He said it was “interesting” that the matter did not appear to originate from the Texas Solicitor General’s office.
Christopher Baum, Florida’s first deputy attorney general, called the case “bats – t crazy, that’s why [Texas’ solicitor general] is not on it.
Another lawyer, Deputy Chief of Solicitor General James Percival, wondered how one state could make this kind of claim against another – that it was wronged by another state’s “unconstitutional” vote. Couldn’t that open up all kinds of electoral disputes, Baum wondered: “So Massachusetts has standing to sue Mississippi for illegally gerrymandered districts? “
You can almost hear them shaking their heads in disbelief.
The court dismisses the case
It is not known if Moody consulted the lawyers, but if she did, she ignored them. The next day, she co-signed a brief, along with 16 other Republican attorneys general, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the Texas case. She tweeted with great solemnity and, apparently, a straight face: “The integrity and resolution of the 2020 election is of paramount importance.”
But two days after Moody’s signing, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
This week, Moody’s spokeswoman Lauren Cassedy dismissed the comments, published in a Miami Herald / Tampa Bay Times article, as “a few employees talking about a water cooler.” She also insisted that there was “solid legal analysis” to support the need for a Supreme Court hearing.
Good try. And yet the Supreme Court apparently disagreed. And neither were the lawyers who, it should be noted, made their comments even before Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 in a much worse and more gruesome attempt to overturn the election. In retrospect, their words sound like an early warning system we should have heard.
“Bats – aren’t you crazy?” Oh yes, and then some.