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Week In Politics: Supreme Court Deals Blow To Trump's Attempts To Overturn Election


We're now going to turn to our senior politics editor and correspondent, Ron Elving. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Vaccine or not, the pandemic rages, so do the economic effects. It occurred to me this morning, I believe scientists have been able to develop the coronavirus vaccines, as Dr. Ho just mentioned, quicker than Congress can pass a coronavirus relief bill. I've been asking you this question for months. Why?

ELVING: Yes. And I still can't give you a reason, Scott, other than gridlock politics. After all this time, it seems that the worse the pain and the shorter the time that remains, the more each side thinks the other has got to cave. And that just makes both sides a little less reasonable, a little more dug in on dollar amounts, direct payments to individuals, help for states and cities, protections for businesses, all the same disagreements we've had all year.

SIMON: U.S. Supreme Court, including all three justices appointed by President Trump, voted not even to hear what might be the last challenge to 2020 election results, didn't they?

ELVING: Yes, they did. There was a last-minute lawsuit brought this week by the attorney general of Texas, joined by 17 other attorneys general from Trump-voting states, mostly overwhelmingly Trump-voting states, and by most of the Republicans in the House of Representatives. And it was about invalidating the votes of four states that voted for Joe Biden. They wanted the court to set aside the votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia and have those legislatures choose alternate electors who could vote for Trump.

It's not even clear why anyone thought that would work. Even John Cornyn, who's a Republican senator from Texas, couldn't see what the legal reasoning was behind that, and neither could the Supreme Court. They meant the case almost literally at the front door and dismissed it and said it wasn't - it had no legal merit. Goodbye.

SIMON: So the Electoral College meets on Monday. No doubt of the result?

ELVING: No reasonable doubt. It's not complicated. In states that voted for Trump, his pledged electors go to the state capital on Monday and vote for Trump. And in states that voted for Biden, electors vote for Biden. Now, these are people who were chosen to be electors for their respective candidates. They are not going to deviate. They are not going to mess around. So bottom line - 232 for Trump, 306 for Biden, and that's that.

SIMON: President-elect Biden has put together his cabinet with many figures familiar from their service in the Obama administration. This has stirred some dissension among some Democrats, hasn't it?

ELVING: Yes, because what one might call a person of valuable experience and proven judgment can also be called a retread or a throwback or part of the problem. This may be a far more diverse cabinet than Trump or even in some respects Obama. But it's not as diverse or as youthful or as progressive as some would like. And, you know, that's an argument the Democrats have been having for more than a century. And they'll probably be having it a century from now.

SIMON: Ron, I was struck this week by how a president with what he says are pro-life views seems intent on hastening the executions of people convicted of murder in his final days in office. That is striking.

ELVING: The Catholic Church has been quite consistent about carrying the pro-life principle forward to oppose the death penalty as well as abortion. But others in the pro-life movement do not see it that way. President Trump is clearly in that camp and wants to make that point emphatically on his way out the door.

SIMON: Thanks so much. NPR's senior politics editor and correspondent Ron Elving, thanks very much for being with us on this important day. Good to have you.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.