Trump’s Wisconsin Election Suit Dismissed by Federal Judge


A federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump threw out a lawsuit filed by his campaign in Wisconsin that sought to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory in the battleground state.

The suit against Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and other state officials was dismissed with prejudice on Saturday by U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig, who heard arguments Thursday from Trump campaign attorneys claiming the state’s mail-in voting procedures during the coronavirus pandemic were put in place illegally.

The president “has not proved that defendants violated his rights under the Electors Clause. To the contrary, the record shows Wisconsin’s Presidential Electors are being determined in the very manner directed by the Legislature, as required by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution,” wrote Ludwig, who took up his current post in September.

The judge said Trump’s argument that disagreements over the conduct of an election by state officials created a federal claim is contrary to the Constitution and “common sense.”

If Trump were correct, “any disappointed loser in a presidential election, able to hire a team of clever lawyers, could flag claimed deviations from the election rules and cast doubt on the election results,” the judge said. “This would risk turning every presidential election into a federal court lawsuit over the Electors Clause.”

‘Ordinary Disputes’

While Trump’s arguments about the conduct of the election weren’t frivolous, “when they are cleared of their rhetoric, they consist of little more than ordinary disputes over statutory construction,” the judge wrote in a 23-page order. “Plaintiff’s Electors Clause claims fail as a matter of law and fact.”

Ludwig added that “for the first time in the nation’s history, a candidate that has lost an election for president based on the popular vote is trying to use federal law to challenge the results of a statewide popular election.”

Trump’s campaign filed the Wisconsin suit Dec. 2, nearly a month after the election he lost to Biden by about 7 million votes nationwide and by an identical margin in the Electoral College to Trump’s 2016 win over Hillary Clinton.

He filed similar claims around the same time in the Wisconsin Supreme Court trying to invalidate results in the state’s two largest counties, Milwaukee and Dane, which lean Democratic. The state high court rejected the case, saying the campaign needed to re-file in county courts.

No Credible Evidence

The decision for what rules to use for elections are issues that the state legislature has expressly entrusted to the Wisconsin Election Commission, said Ludwig.

Dozens of suits by the Trump campaign and its allies have failed in courts across the country, while federal judges in Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia have dismissed related lawsuits filed by ex-Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell. She claims Biden’s win is the result of a vast conspiracy involving voting machines tainted by Venezuelan software being hacked by China and Iran. None of the suits have produced credible evidence of voter fraud.

Trump and his supporters on Friday night were thwarted in their Hail-Mary petition filed directly in the U.S. Supreme Court by the state of Texas, seeking to block Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia from participating in the Electoral College vote.

In an effectively unanimous order, the top court rejected the lawsuit Trump had called “the big one,” clearing the path for Joe Biden to become the 46th president. The order ensures the states involved can cast their votes for Biden in the Electoral College on Monday.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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