One of the nation’s most prominent religious conservative lawyers played a critical behind-the-scenes role in the lawsuit that Republican state attorneys general filed in December in a last-ditch effort to overturn the election of President Biden, documents show.
The lawyer, Michael P. Farris, is the chief executive of a group known as Alliance Defending Freedom, which is active in opposing abortion and gay rights. He circulated a detailed draft of the lawsuit that Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, ultimately filed against states including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin in an effort to help President Donald J. Trump remain in office.
Mr. Paxton filed the lawsuit on Dec. 7, after making some changes but keeping large chunks of the draft circulated by Mr. Farris.
But Mr. Farris’s role highlighted how religious conservatives supported Mr. Trump’s unsuccessful attempts to retain power by blocking certification of Mr. Biden’s victory.
“Please find a much-improved version of the complaint attached,” Mr. Farris wrote in an email on Nov. 30 to the chief deputy attorney general in South Carolina, one of several Republicans whom Mr. Farris and a team of other conservative lawyers were trying to convince to file the lawsuit. “I will call you and update you on the alternatives.”
The email, obtained via an open records request by The New York Times and researchers at Mount Holyoke College, included a detailed 42-page legal complaint, accusing the states of violating the Constitution by changing the rules related to absentee ballots and other election details without formal approval from state legislatures.
The complaint Mr. Farris sent had conveniently left the identification of the Republican attorney general’s office that would ultimately file the litigation blank, instead writing “000 Street Ave, Capitol City, ST 00000, (111) 222-3333, fsurname@oag.StateA.gov, Counsel of Record.”