Judge dismisses Trump lawsuit seeking to delay certification in Pennsylvania
By Alan Feuer
A federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed on Saturday night a lawsuit by the Trump campaign that had claimed there were widespread improprieties with mail-in ballots in the state, ending the last major effort to delay the certification of Pennsylvania’s vote results, which is scheduled to take place Monday.
In a scathing order, Judge Matthew Brann wrote that President Donald Trump’s campaign, which had asked him to effectively disenfranchise nearly 7 million voters, should have come to court “armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption” in its efforts to essentially nullify the results of Pennsylvania’s election.
But instead, Brann complained, the Trump campaign provided only “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” that were “unsupported by evidence.”
After legal defeats in nearly all of the key swing states — Michigan, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Wisconsin — Trump’s path to overturning the results of the election through the courts has all but vanished.
The Pennsylvania lawsuit, filed Nov. 9, accused its secretary of state, Kathy Boockvar, and several counties with largely Democratic populations of unfairly handling mail-in ballots, which were used in unprecedented numbers during this year’s election. The suit claimed that under Boockvar’s guidance, the Democratic counties gave voters who had submitted mail-in ballots with minor flaws an opportunity to “cure” or fix them while counties with mostly Republican populations did not alert voters about faulty ballots.
That, according to the Trump campaign, violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Brann, a former Pennsylvania Republican Party official and a member of the conservative Federalist Society, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, rejected this argument, likening it to Frankenstein’s monster, which, he noted, had been “haphazardly stitched together.”
He ruled that the Trump campaign, lacking standing to make the claim, could not prove that it had suffered any harm if some counties, anticipating a deluge of mail-in ballots, helped their voters to file proper ballots while others did not.
“That some counties may have chosen to implement” Boockvar’s suggestions but others did not “does not constitute an equal-protection violation,” Brann wrote.
The dismissal of the suit just two days before Pennsylvania was scheduled to certify its vote and award its 20 electors to President-elect Joe Biden was merely the latest of the more than 30 legal losses the Trump campaign and other Republican plaintiffs have suffered since Election Day.
At a rambling news conference Thursday that mixed misleading statements, conspiracy theories and outright fabrications, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, promised more suits attacking the integrity of the elections and proving “massive fraud,” but at least so far, those suits have not been filed.
The suit Brann considered was particularly troubled by legal challenges.
One week after it was filed, the Trump campaign was already on its third set of lawyers. On Tuesday, Giuliani, rushing into the matter, personally appeared at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and gave a disjointed opening statement that mentioned Mickey Mouse, former Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago and the Philadelphia mafia.
In court papers filed Saturday, he misspelled the name of Pennsylvania’s governor, Tom Wolf.
Even though Giuliani began his presentation at the court hearing by accusing the Democratic Party of committing “nationwide fraud” in Pennsylvania and at least nine other states, under questioning by Brann he quickly backtracked and acknowledged he was making no such claims in this case.
“This is not a fraud case,” he said.
In his 37-page order, Brann systemically dismantled the Trump campaign’s arguments and those brought by the suit’s two other plaintiffs, Republican voters who claimed their mail-in ballots had not been counted.
Given the almost total lack of evidence that the Trump campaign provided, Brann seemed incredulous that he was being asked to toss the results of an entire state’s election.
“In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state,” he wrote. “Our people, laws and institutions demand more.”