Trump Wisconsin Election Suit Rejected by State High Court
(Bloomberg) -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to challenge the election result directly in the state’s top court, saying a case that Governor Tony Evers called an “assault on democracy” must first be heard by a trial judge.
A majority of the court’s judges on Thursday ruled state law requires election challenges to start in lower courts, where crucial factual and legal disputes can be hashed out first. Sticking with “time-tested judicial norms” is especially important in high-profile cases, the judges said.
“I understand the impulse to immediately address the legal questions presented by this petition to ensure the recently completed election was conducted in accordance with the law,” Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote in the opinion. “But challenges to election results are also governed by law.”
The Trump campaign said it intended to re-file the case immediately in lower courts and said it welcomed the ruling. “It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” Jim Troupis, a lawyer for the campaign, said.
Despite ongoing allegations of voter fraud and irregularities from Trump and his supporters, no evidence has emerged of widespread problems that would have changed the results of the election, which President-elect Joe Biden won with 306 electoral votes. Trump’s legal challenges have failed in all but one instance so far.
The state Supreme Court decision comes a day after Trump and his campaign started a parallel federal lawsuit over the use of mail-in ballots. The state-court suit alleges Wisconsin officials in Democratic-leaning Milwaukee and Dane counties failed to follow proper procedure for issuing mail-in ballots and also accepted tens of thousands that should have been rejected based on various errors. Biden won Wisconsin by around 20,000 votes.
Evers, a Democrat, had asked the state’s high court on Tuesday to reject Trump’s application, accusing the president of trying to “seize” Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes through bogus litigation focusing on “alleged technical violations in only two counties.”
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Patience Drake Roggensack said that “by denying this petition, and requiring both the factual questions and legal questions be resolved first by a circuit court, four justices of this court are ignoring that there are significant time constraints that may preclude our deciding significant legal issues that cry out for resolution by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”
In the federal case, which is still in an early stage, Trump and his campaign are challenging the state’s entire procedure for mail-in-ballots and asking that the election’s outcome be determined by legislators instead of voters.
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