President Donald Trump’s timeline to challenge his electoral loss is coming to end, with Tuesday marking the “safe harbor” deadline, at which point federal law mandates states resolve any election results-related disputes.

The Supreme Court cited the safe harbor deadline in 200 during Bush v. Gore, arguing that the impending deadline negated the need for a manual recount in Florida. The court heard arguments the day before the deadline and decided the day of.

“The majority treated the safe harbor very seriously,” Ohio State University law professor Ned Foley told Politico. “That’s why there was no remand to give Florida another chance at recounting.”

The deadline will not end every existing legal challenge from Trump’s team but will provide further justification for courts to reject suits that may arise. And while the Supreme Court offered no reasoning behind their one-line rejection, the conservative-majority court decided not to hear an election-related case brought by a Republican lawmaker in Pennsylvania on Tuesday — the same day as the safe harbor deadline.


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The Supreme Court acknowledged that the deadline did not involve a hard cut-off in Bush v. Gore, but noted the deadline’s importance in resolving the dispute.

The 1887 statute, established by Congress in the Electoral Count Act, is designed to prevent the presidential election results from hanging in limbo.

Trump’s legal team has publicly stated the deadline is meaningless, though they filed a number of suits in the days leading up to it. However, there is no way to fully force Congress to adhere to the deadline.

“Despite the media trying desperately to proclaim that the fight is over, we will continue to champion election integrity until legal vote is counted fairly and accurately,” said attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, continuing to promote allegations of widespread fraud without evidence.

Effectively, the law means that any state which has finalized its results at least six days before the Electoral College convenes (on Dec. 14) qualifies for “safe harbor,” meaning that Congress must treat those results as “conclusive.” Every state except Wisconsin has met the deadline.

Even without Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes, former Vice President Joe Biden will still easily secure the presidency. However, those votes are still expected to go to him, they just lack the same congressional safe harbor protections.

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