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Editorial: How Alan Wilson is undermining the foundations of our republic

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S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson questions then-candidate Donald Trump during a 2015 town hall meeting. Mr. Wilson has stopped questioning the president and now is doing his bidding, in a lawsuit that seeks to throw out election results that displeased Mr. Trump. AP Photo/Richard Shiro

Last month, Alan Wilson joined nine other state attorneys general to support a lawsuit that sought to invalidate Joe Biden’s Pennsylvania victory over Donald Trump. The lawsuit was wholly partisan and without merit — as the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrated on Tuesday when it refused without comment to overturn the governor’s certification of the election.

Perhaps an argument could be made that our state's top legal officer has a legitimate interest in how federal courts rule on cases that could set a precedent affecting South Carolina. And like many instances where Mr. Wilson joins in amicus briefs with other Republican attorneys general, it seemed like a harmless gesture.

The same is not true of a new lawsuit Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed to invalidate the 62 Electoral College votes in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This lawsuit, based on unsubstantiated claims about the legitimacy of absentee voting, purports to be about protecting the integrity of the vote in the 46 other states. In fact, it's a raw political effort to disenfranchise voters in states that didn’t pick Texas’ preferred candidate — the very antithesis of the 10th Amendment/states’ rights argument that Mr. Wilson and other Republicans normally, often rightly, make.

Yet a mere day after the nation’s high court rejected the less radical lawsuit targeting Pennsylvania, Mr. Wilson joined with Republican attorneys general in 16 other states in filing an amicus brief to support the Texas suit. And on Thursday, after having lunch with the president, Mr. Wilson went further, asking the court to let him become a party to the lawsuit — if it takes up the case.

We wonder how Mr. Wilson would like it if attorneys general in Democratic-majority states asked the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out South Carolina’s election results. After all, one claim in the Texas suit is that someone other than legislators told election officials they couldn’t throw out absentee ballots in Georgia because they didn't think the signature matched the one on file — which also happened in South Carolina. Any attempt by other states to invalidate South Carolina’s election results would have precisely the same amount of merit as this one: zero.

We aren’t worried that Mr. Wilson’s intervention will sway the Supreme Court to disenfranchise millions of voters. We have no reason to believe that the court, with or without Mr. Wilson’s intervention, will agree even to hear the lawsuit. If anything, the avalanche of meritless lawsuits seeking to overturn a legitimate American election is giving the Supreme Court's newest members a chance to demonstrate their integrity and independence.

Our concern is that the campaign to delegitimize the election results damages the foundation of our republic. This danger is compounded each time another elected official lends credence to the meritless claims.

Mr. Wilson certainly isn’t the only S.C. elected official who has participated in this obsequious effort to placate a defeated president. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham leaps to mind, particularly but not exclusively in his conversation with Georgia’s top election official, who said Sen. Graham appeared to suggest that he find a way to reject legal ballots.

But Mr. Graham and other Republicans have merely lent rhetorical support to the defeated president. Mr. Wilson is using the power of his office to try to overturn the results of a valid election and undermine public confidence in our republic, and he is dragging our state into the fray. That’s a stain on his reputation that Mr. Wilson will have to live with for the rest of his career — and a tremendous hurdle to overcome if he seeks reelection in two years.

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