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Factbox: Trump suffers major defeat in legal battle to overturn the election, but presses on

  • Published at 01:35 pm November 23rd, 2020
Donald Trump
File photo: US President Donald Trump delivers an address from the Rose Garden at the White House, in Washington on November 13, 2020 Reuters

Several Trump campaign lawsuits have been dismissed, and legal experts said the remaining cases do not give Trump a viable path to overturning election results

US President Donald Trump’s campaign and his allies have suffered a string of judicial defeats in their bid to prevent states from certifying President-Elect Joe Biden as the winner of the November 3 presidential election.

On Saturday, a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Trump’s challenge to mail-in ballots in the state had been “haphazardly stitched together” like “Frankenstein’s monster.”

Several Trump campaign lawsuits have been dismissed, and legal experts said the remaining cases do not give Trump, a Republican, a viable path to overturning the election results.

Below is a list of litigation that could play out in the coming days.

Judge tosses suit

The Trump campaign sued on November 9 to prevent Biden, a Democrat, from being certified by election officials as the winner in Pennsylvania.

The lawsuit said Republican observers were denied access to the counting of mail-in ballots, a claim election officials dispute, and alleged inconsistent treatment of mail-in ballots by county officials.

US District Judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania dismissed the case on Saturday. The judge blasted Trump for presenting “strained legal arguments” and “speculative accusations.”

Brann said that he “has no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let alone millions of citizens.”

The judge also refused to allow the campaign to amend its complaint to add back claims they had initially included but then dropped.

The campaign wanted Brann to allow Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state legislature to appoint electors who would back Trump at the Electoral College vote on December 14.

The campaign on Sunday appealed to the US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, focusing on a narrow argument that Brann should have let them add back the claims they dropped.

Pennsylvania counties are expected to certify their results on Monday, leaving little time for an appeal.

Dropped Michigan case, motion for sanctions

On November 11, the campaign filed a lawsuit to halt Michigan officials from certifying Biden’s win there.

Trump’s campaign on Thursday said in a court filing that it was voluntarily dropping the lawsuit because election officials in Wayne County “met and declined to certify the results of the presidential election.”

In fact, Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers on Tuesday refused at first to certify the results, but then reversed themselves after a public outcry.

Lawyers for the government of the city of Detroit, which lies in Wayne County, said on Thursday that the campaign included “impertinent and false language” in the filing and asked a federal judge to strike the disputed document from the case record as a sanction.

The federal judge in Detroit hearing the case has not yet ruled on the sanction request.

Mark “Thor” Hearne, the Trump campaign lawyer who submitted the document, told Reuters the sanctions request was frivolous and an attempt to score political points.

Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis said on Saturday in a tweet that the campaign could “refile” the Michigan case if it needs to.

The lawsuit alleged misconduct such as harassment of Republican poll challengers and a requirement that they adhere to six-foot distancing rules unlike Democratic poll challengers.

Michigan’s counties have certified the election results and the state is due to meet to certify them on Monday.

Other pending Pennsylvania litigation

US Congressman Mike Kelly, a Trump ally, and other Pennsylvania Republicans filed a lawsuit on Saturday aimed at throwing out 2.6 million mail-in votes — claiming state law allowing them is unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs alleged that the universal, no-excuse mail-in ballot program passed by the state legislature’s Republican majority in 2019 violated the state’s constitution.

In separate litigation, Trump’s campaign on November 4 sought to intervene in a case pending before the US Supreme Court, challenging a rule allowing state election officials to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day even if they were delivered up to three days later.

Pennsylvania election officials have said there were about 10,000 late-arriving ballots, which were separated.

Biden is winning Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes,

The justices had previously ruled there was not enough time to decide the case’s merits before Election Day but indicated they might revisit it afterwards.

Justice Samuel Alito, joined by conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, said at the time there was a “strong likelihood” the Pennsylvania court ruling violated the US Constitution.

Nevada elector challenge

A slate of would-be electors for Trump filed a November 17 lawsuit against electors for Biden, alleging a wide variety of issues with the vote. Under state law, Biden, the winner of the popular vote, receives Nevada’s six electoral votes.

The lawsuit alleged Trump “be declared the winner of the Election in Nevada,” or, alternatively, that the results in the state are annulled and no winner is certified there.

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