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Would the Supreme Court hand Donald Trump a second term?

“I THINK [the election] will end up in the Supreme Court”, Donald Trump said on September 23rd, a forecast he reiterated during his debate with Joe Biden on September 29th. It is “very important that we have nine justices” in place before the election, Mr Trump said, and he is “counting” on them to “look at the ballots”. With his deficit in the polls stuck at about eight points nationally, Mr Trump has baselessly impugned the integrity of mail-in voting and refused to commit himself to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. He expects America’s high court to come to his rescue should he fail to win a clear victory on November 3rd. But the president may find peril in what he believes to be a safe harbour—even if his choice to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, dons her robes in time.

There are a few reasons to doubt that a Supreme Court populated with three of Mr Trump’s appointees would be a lock to usher him into the White House for four more years. One is that Bush v Gore, the Supreme Court ruling that in effect gave George W. Bush the nod over Al Gore 36 days after the fraught 2000 election, may not be a good guide to 2020. The circumstances leading to that contest—the race coming down to a tight battle for Florida’s 25 electoral votes—are less likely to be repeated this year....

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