In scathing ruling, judge dismisses Trump campaign's effort to overturn election results in Pennsylvania
A federal court in Pennsylvania on Saturday denied President Donald Trump's motion to block certification of the state's election results for 2020 in order to give his lawyers time to find evidence of their claims of a fraudulent electoral system and inadequate vote counting.
In a damning verdict, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann criticized the lack of evidence the Trump campaign produced to support its argument of potentially disenfranchising any Commonwealth voter who cast a vote in the 2020 election - almost 7 million in total.
Brann noted that the case, less than two weeks old, developed a "tortured procedural story," including a parade of lawyers for the campaign, postponing legal arguments to avoid conflict with a federal appeals court ruling, and a motion to delay in the eleventh hour included a hearing.
Brann wrote that the only legal claim - an alleged violation of the equality clause in the US Constitution - like "Frankenstein's monster ... arbitrarily stitched together" was two legal theories.
The verdict completely dismissed the case filed by Trump's campaign and two Republican voters who said their ballots had been rejected for technical reasons, while accepting votes cast by thousands of voters in the state's Democratic strongholds. The decision specifically denied permission to change the allegations.
"This court has not been able to find a case in which an election campaign plaintiff has sought such a drastic appeal in relation to the sheer volume of votes that is to be declared invalid," Brann wrote in the 37-page decision.
"One might expect a plaintiff to be mightily armed with compelling legal arguments and factual evidence of rampant corruption in search of such a startling result," he wrote. "Instead, this court was presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative allegations that were not supported by evidence.
"In the United States of America this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of any single voter, let alone all of the electorate in its sixth most populous state."
Poll workers count ballots at the Philadelphia Convention Center on November 6, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Joe Biden took the lead in President Trump's vote counting in Pennsylvania Friday morning as postal ballot papers continue to be counted in battlefield state.
The decision opens the door to a crucial case in Trump's hesitant efforts to get the courts to overturn the election results in key states he lost to former Vice President Joe Biden. It arrived in Pennsylvania two days before Monday to confirm the results. This was a precursor to the formal award of the state's 20 electoral votes to Biden.
A Michigan state advertising commission that also promoted Biden is due to vote Monday on certifying their totals. An Arizona judge dismissed the last case relating to Friday's presidential race.
The Trump campaign faced an uphill battle during the closely watched case, containing arguments similar to those used in lawsuits filed in other battlefield states of the presidential campaign. Without submitting affidavits or other evidence, the campaign argued that tens of thousands of postal ballot papers should have been rejected for deficiencies but were accepted in a process that blocked reasonable scrutiny by Republican observers.
Changing arguments, lawyers' parade
Trump's attorneys initially launched a legal broadside against postal voting, arguing that Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Secretary and electoral officials in seven high-enrolled Democratic counties created an unconstitutional, two-tier electoral system.
The campaign argued that personal voters, who largely voted for Trump, had to adhere to strictly enforced rules. People who voted by mail and largely cast their votes for Biden were subject to lax rules, the campaign argued.
The campaign, however, abruptly shifted focus in an amended complaint filed when a team of lawyers left and another stepped in - and when the federal appeals court's decision in another case blocked the use of certain constitutional arguments.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (left) and President Donald Trump (right) are pictured during their respective campaigns.
The second complaint focused on allegations that electoral officials had distanced Republican observers so far from processing postal ballot papers that they could not find any shortcomings. When Brann brought up this argument, he wrote that Trump's lawyers did not show that Democratic observers had access that Republicans did not.
The revision also called into question the so-called voting process, which, according to the Trump campaign, wrongly allowed electoral officials in Democratic Areas to contact and support email voters who made mistakes in their votes.
However, Brann's ruling states that while a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling did not require the county's electoral bodies to contact those voters so they could cast their ballots. However, the Supreme Court declined to "expressly answer whether such a policy is necessarily prohibited".
Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney and former Mayor of New York City, stepped into the case shortly before a hearing on Tuesday. The legal strategy has changed again. This time around, the Trump campaign has merged many of the legal arguments from the previous complaints into a proposed third version. The lawyers accused the Commonwealth of Undersecretary and electoral officials in seven democratic counties of participating in the election of Biden.
The proposed third complaint asked federal court to disqualify millions of ballot papers, which would have obliterated the 81,813 votes Biden held in Pennsylvania on Saturday night. Giuliani argued, however, that the campaign didn't want to disqualify every postal ballot.
Brann did not even consider the third version of the lawsuit as it would have further delayed the case as the state stood before its deadline to confirm the results.
Legal experts investigated the case from the start
Nine legal experts interviewed by USA TODAY criticized the Trump campaign's initial lawsuit, saying the courts would only invalidate ballots cast by voters, which followed the rules they believed to be electoral rules.
The campaign's allegations did not raise any constitutional issues, said the experts, who added that mail voting is legal and used in many states outside of Pennsylvania.
Legal experts rap Trump's legal challenge: Nine legal experts say Trump's case against the Pennsylvania election results is dead upon arrival
Their criticism intensified when the lawsuit against the Trump campaign took legal twists and turns.
"I have never seen a high-profile case like this by so many groups of lawyers so quickly, nor a high-profile electoral case that was not handled by the electoral law and by specialists from the federal court and the court of appeal," said Richard Hasen, Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of the Election Law Blog, wrote in an email.
"The allegations are both legally and factually flawed," wrote Hasen.
Where's the Evidence ?: In Pennsylvania, Trump plans to kick out polled ballots or the entire election. His fraud claims remain unfounded.
Kermit Roosevelt, a constitutional law expert at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, said the Trump campaign "sends the message that election results directed against Republicans are inherently illegal and need not be accepted - even if there is no evidence and." there are no plausible legal reasons. " Argument that something was wrong with the choice. "
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Trump campaign lawsuit dismissed in Pennsylvania
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