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GOP will ask Supreme Court to limit mail voting in Pennsylvania in first post-RBG test

Republicans plan to ask the Supreme Court to review a major Pennsylvania state court ruling that extended the due date for mail ballots in the key battleground state, teeing up the first test for the Supreme Court since the death of its liberal leader Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgNYC street and subway signs transformed to welcome Biden, bid farewell to Trump Schumer and McConnell trade places, but icy relationship holds Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader MORE

The GOP legal strategy, which was revealed in a pair of court documents filed overnight and Tuesday morning, has not been previously reported.

The development comes after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dealt Republicans a major blow last week in a bitterly partisan election lawsuit that could help determine whether President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE or Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenRev. Barber says best way to undercut extremism is with honesty Biden requires international travelers to quarantine upon arrival to US Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 MORE takes the Keystone State, which Trump won in 2016 by just over 44,000 votes.

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The expected petition to the Supreme Court comes just days after Ginsburg’s death from cancer last Friday injected further uncertainty into a chaotic 2020 presidential contest that is on track to be the most intensely litigated election cycle in U.S. history.

“This could be a big first test for the post-RBG Supreme Court and where it will stand on election issues,” said Rick Hasen, an election law expert and law professor at the University of California Irvine. “There’s little reason to believe that the conservative-liberal divide will disappear with Justice Ginsburg’s death.”

The decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week to relax the state’s mail voting deadline was seen as a win for Democrats, since Biden voters are more likely than Trump supporters to vote by mail in November. Under the ruling, Pennsylvania must accept ballots postmarked by Election Day, as long as they arrive within three days.

The Republican Party of Pennsylvania on Monday night asked the state’s top court to temporarily halt its ruling from taking effect. The GOP made its request in order to buy time to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, or alternatively, to ask the eight justices to consider pausing the state court ruling themselves. 

Pennsylvania Republicans argue the state court’s ruling opens the door to illegal votes.

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“The court’s judgment ... creates a serious likelihood that Pennsylvania’s imminent general election will be tainted by votes that were illegally cast or mailed after Election Day,” the GOP wrote in its Monday night court filing.

The Republican Party of Pennsylvania "respectfully asks the court for a partial stay of its judgment, pending disposition of [our] forthcoming stay application and petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Top leaders from Pennsylvania’s GOP-held legislature also vowed to petition the Supreme Court. 

Ginsburg’s death leaves the court with a 5-3 conservative majority. 

Trump is expected to announce a nominee to fill Ginsburg’s vacancy by the end of the week and Senate Republicans hope to quickly confirm a new justice.