High court lets Conservative Action Fund join McDaniel challenge

A Supreme Court justice has ruled the Conservative Action Fund can file a brief and join in the oral arguments in support of the Chris McDaniel election challenge.

The brief, filed Friday, asks the state Supreme Court not to apply the decision in the Kellum v. Johnson case, which a special judge used last month to extend to U.S. Senate elections a 20-day deadline on filing challenges in local elections.

McDaniel lost that Republican primary race to Sen. Thad Cochran in a runoff but is challenging the results because of alleged irregularities in the election.

The brief cites the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the 2000 presidential election in arguing the court should honor the Mississippi Legislature's "selective inclusion of a 20-day deadline by declining to extend it to U.S. Senate races." The brief further argues that the court should not send it back to the lower court but should review McDaniel's evidence and rule on the merits of his challenge.

Otherwise, the brief argues, it should delay the Nov. 4 general election for Senate.

The brief says the court shouldn't apply the Kellum decision because the U.S. Constitution "does not permit the Court to recognize and enforce restrictions on the electoral process other than those that the Legislature expressly enacted."

The brief says because the Constitution grants the legislatures, not the states as a whole, the power to regulate federal elections, "state courts have a unique constitutional responsibility to interpret state laws that apply to federal elections, according to their plain meaning and thereby avoid infringing on that exclusive prerogative."

The brief said the court must "avoid going beyond that Legislative language" and that is what Special Judge Hollis McGehee did when he applied the McCullom ruling.

Fund Chairman Shaun McCutcheon brought the McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission suit that resulted in the Supreme Court ruling the government cannot prevent citizens from giving campaign contributions to as many different candidates and political parties as they want.

Editor's note: An earlier version had the name of the group joining the suit incorrect.