How Michael P. Farris tried to block the 2020 election result

WASHINGTON – One of the country’s foremost religious conservative lawyers played a critical role behind the scenes in the lawsuit that R...


WASHINGTON – One of the country’s foremost religious conservative lawyers played a critical role behind the scenes in the lawsuit that Republican state attorneys general filed in December in a last-ditch effort to overturn President Biden’s election, according to documents.

The lawyer, Michael P. Farris, is the chief executive of a group known as the Alliance Defending Freedom, which actively opposes abortion and gay rights. He circulated a detailed draft of the lawsuit that Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, ultimately filed against states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin in an attempt to help President Donald J. Trump stay in office. .

Mr. Paxton filed the complaint December 7, after making some changes but keeping large chunks of the project released by Mr. Farris.

17 more Republican attorneys general submitted a brief with the Supreme Court supporting Mr Paxton’s trial. In four days, the case was rejected by court.

But Mr. Farris’ role highlighted how religious conservatives backed Mr. Trump’s failed attempts to hold on to power by blocking Mr. Biden’s certification of victory.

“Please find a much improved version of the attached complaint,” Mr. Farris written in an email on Nov. 30 to South Carolina’s Deputy Chief Attorney General, one of many Republicans Mr. Farris and a team of other Conservative lawyers were trying to convince to take legal action. “I’ll call you and keep you posted on the alternatives. “

The email, obtained through a request for cases opened by the New York Times and researchers at Mount Holyoke College, included a 42-page legal complaint, accusing states of violating the Constitution by changing the rules relating to postal ballots and other election details without the formal approval of the state legislatures.

The complaint Mr. Farris sent had conveniently left the identification of the Republican Attorney General’s office that would eventually file the dispute in white, writing instead “000 Street Ave, Capitol City, ST 00000, (111) 222-3333, fsurname@oag.StateA .gov, Legal Advisor.

Mr. Farris’ involvement in the effort, which has not been reported before, is part of a massive campaign by religious conservatives to get Mr. Trump reelected. Their role intensified after the pandemic struck in early 2020 and states began to relax postal voting rules, which religious conservatives said would lead to increased participation by liberal voters.

Mr. Farris made his name in the 1980s as the founder of a legal group that was successful in pushing states nationwide to allow children to be home-taught, based on the belief that only through home schooling, away from secular influences in public schools, could a large Christian movement arise in the United States.

At the Alliance Defending Freedom, Mr. Farris helped lead the organization’s campaign against abortion and gay rights, including the lawsuit pleaded by the team of Mr. Farris who sought to defend the right of a Colorado pastry shop to refuse to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple, a case that went to the end to the Supreme Court.

Mr Farris declined a request for an interview, but in an email he confirmed his role in the post-election effort, saying his involvement was not part of his job at the Alliance for the Defense of Freedom , a non-profit group It is prohibited by federal law to play a role in a political campaign.

“While it is true that I care about this issue on a personal level, it is not something ADF is working on in any capacity,” he wrote. “As President and CEO, my responsibility is to focus on ADF’s mission, which is to protect the divine freedoms of Americans. I have nothing to say about the details of the way forward on the question of electoral integrity, other than the hope that all Americans take the matter seriously. “

A spokesperson for Mr Paxton did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Farris had not been a fan of Mr. Trump prior to his election and publicly urged other conservative Christians to vote for another Republican candidate in 2016.

“His candidacy is the antithesis of anything we strive to achieve,” Farris wrote in a Washington Post. opinion column in June 2016.

But Mr. Farris and other religious conservatives later told their supporters that Mr. Trump had proved them wrong with his Tory judicial appointments, his efforts to block all federal spending on abortions, and his willingness to support the efforts of some business owners to discriminate. homosexuals. This included the Colorado pastry shop, which won the right to refuse to sell wedding cakes to gay couples – in a legal argument that Trump’s Justice Department has supported.

Faith groups actively contested the November election result in public early on – even as a much more secretive campaign was underway, involving Mr. Farris and others, such as Mark D. Martin, the dean of the Regent University School of Law, a self-proclaimed Christian institution.

Mr. Martin, the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, and Mr. Farris have both been implicated, from emails obtained by The Times, in attempts to recruit a Republican attorney general to sue legal action in the United States Supreme Court to further the efforts of allies of Mr. Trump.

Drafts of the trial were also sent to the Louisiana Attorney General, Jeff Landry, a Republican. But the most intensive efforts appear to have targeted South Carolina and Texas, the emails suggest, as Tory activists tried to convince South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson to serve as the main plaintiff.

“Mike Farris, who is the president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) will send reports, possibly as early as this evening,” one said. November 27 email to M. Wilson, sent by curator activist and author Don Brown, referring to reports examining presidential election results and current challenges.

Three days later, Mr. Farris wrote to Mr. Wilson’s office, with a draft of the lawsuit he wanted Mr. Wilson to consider filing in the United States Supreme Court. Mr Farris then spoke with Mr Wilson about the possible lawsuit, according to the emails.

“We have had constant conversations with other state AGs and state AG staff,” Wilson wrote in a statement. December 3 email, also obtained through an open case request. “I had a follow-up conversation with Mike Farris yesterday morning before he returned to Texas. Mike was very accommodating and was familiar with the legal issues raised in oral argument.

But Mr Wilson raised objections to the legal arguments with Mr Farris, he said, questioning whether a state has the right to sue another state over electoral procedures or what might be reasonable to do. ask the Supreme Court to do as a “recourse” for such a dispute, given that it concerned the result of the presidential election.

“Other issues have been raised and have been difficult to overcome, but our staff and other states are still working on the issue,” Wilson said.

Undeterred, the team of conservative activists stepped up their efforts to enlist Mr. Paxton, who within days brought forward his case on behalf of the state of Texas.

“Our country is at an important crossroads”, the complaint filed by Mr. Paxton said in his opening remarks. Those the words were lifted word for word of the draft that Mr Farris had sent, as well as a subsequent passage stating that “either the Constitution is important and must be followed, even when some officials consider it inconvenient or out of date, or it is simply a piece of parchment exhibited at the National Archives. We ask the Court to choose the first.

Jim rutenberg contributed reports.

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Newsrust - US Top News: How Michael P. Farris tried to block the 2020 election result
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