Appeals Court Tosses Gohmert’s Suit Against Pence Over Electors

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A federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of a Republican congressman’s lawsuit that attempted to authorize Vice President Mike Pence -- against his wishes -- to unilaterally overturn Donald Trump’s election loss during a joint session of Congress this week.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, widely considered to be the most conservative in the country, rejected the suit against Pence by Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas in a brief decision issued Saturday night.

Dozens of Republican-led suits alleging a variety of conspiracy theories about voter fraud by Democrats have failed in recent weeks due to a lack of evidence. The false claims are nevertheless firing up Trump’s base ahead of protests set to take place in Washington this week, demonstrations that the president has encouraged.

A panel of three judges -- two appointed by President Ronald Reagan and one by Trump, agreed with U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle that Gohmert hadn’t suffered a specific injury caused by any action of Pence and therefore didn’t have legal standing to sue. Kernodle is also a Trump appointee.

“We need say no more, and we affirm the judgment essentially for the reasons stated by the district court,” the appeals court said. “We express no view on the underlying merits or on what putative party, if any, might have standing.”

Gohmert’s suit sought to force Pence to acknowledge what the congressman argues is the vice president’s authority to hand Trump a second term by simply rejecting swing states’ Democratic electors and instead choosing competing GOP electors when the Senate and House meet jointly to open and count certificates of electoral votes on Jan. 6.

Pence, as vice president, has the constitutional role of presiding over the Senate, which has traditionally included overseeing the formal acceptance of the Electoral College vote, which President-elect Joe Biden won.

Pence’s lawyers with the U.S. Justice Department argued for dismissal of Gohmert’s lawsuit, saying in a filing on Thursday that the congressman should have sued the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives instead, if he disagreed with the established way that Electoral College votes were counted.

Gohmert’s lawsuit echoes Trump’s debunked conspiracy theory that Biden won the election only through rampant voter fraud perpetrated by thousands of corrupt Democratic officials and election workers. Some members of Congress have signaled they will object during the joint session.

Gohmert’s attorney Howard Kleinhendler didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Friday night, speaking on a conservative news channel after his lawsuit was first rejected, Gohmert suggested street violence was the next recourse to overturn Trump’s loss.

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