Wisconsin Supreme Court Won’t Hear Trump Lawsuit
Trump still has a federal court challenge pending.
On a 4-3 vote, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted not to hear Trump’s suit. The Trump campaign was seeking to have approximately 221,000 ballots thrown out in Wisconsin, but only those that came from Milwaukee and Dane counties. The attorneys ruling against hearing the case were Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky and conservative Brian Hagedorn.
Hagedorn wrote a concurring opinion that said Trump could still pursue the case, but should do so starting at the county circuit court level. “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. But challenges to election results are also governed by law,” he wrote. “Even if this court has constitutional authority to hear the case straightaway, notwithstanding the statutory text, the briefing reveals important factual disputes that are best managed by a circuit court.”
But time is running out. The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on December 14th.
Dissenting Chief Justice Patience Roggensack said the body could have held the case while a circuit court ruled on issues of fact. “I agree that the circuit court should examine the record presented during the canvasses to make factual findings where legal challenges to the vote turn on questions of fact. However, I dissent because I would grant the petition for original action, refer for necessary factual findings to the circuit court, who would then report its factual findings to us, and we would decide the important legal questions presented,” she wrote. “I also am concerned that the public will misunderstand what our denial of the petition means. Occasionally, members of the public seem to believe that a denial of our acceptance of a case signals that the petition’s allegations are either false or not serious. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Trump’s campaign was represented on the case by Jim Troupis, who also represented Trump in the Dane County recount. As part of the campaign’s legal challenge, Troupis was trying to have his own vote tossed because — based upon what the campaign alleges constitutes an illegal vote — it was cast illegally.
A federal lawsuit, filed Wednesday, is still pending. Trump ally Sidney Powell also has a federal lawsuit that alleges “massive election fraud” in Wisconsin. Two other suits were filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court using similar claims to those made by the Trump campaign.
The largest category Trump’s state suit targeted was in-person absentee ballots (commonly called “early voting”) because it said there is not a separate application. During the recount, Milwaukee County officials noted that the ballot envelope has the words “application” printed on it and a special mark to note that the voter requested it. Early voting is a long-standing practice in Wisconsin elections.
The campaign also sought to have ballots cast by voters who declared themselves “indefinitely confined” tossed. The declaration allows a voter who cannot leave home to skip the voter identification requirements of a traditional absentee request. Multiple clerks encouraged voters to make the declaration in March while the state’s Safer at Home order was in effect before a court ruled the guidance was improper.
Trump also sought to have all “mismatched ink” absentee envelopes and related votes tossed. In this case, poll workers, under state commission guidance, completed addresses on absentee envelopes where the witness may have written a street address, but not a city or state (or similar partial address scenarios). To accept the ballots the witness signature was required to be present and the partial address had to be trackable to a specific, valid address.
The lawsuit offered a very specific fourth challenge. The City of Madison held Democracy in the Park voting events on two weekends in advance of in-person absentee voting. At the events, voters were able to return previously-requested ballots to clerks, but were not able to request, receive and return a ballot on the same day, as they would during in-person absentee voting. Wisconsin Elections Commission executive director Meagan Wolfe said in October she didn’t believe the event violated any laws. The campaign said any ballots returned during the events should be tossed.
“Voters acted in good faith, believing their votes would count and their will would be done,” said Governor Tony Evers‘ legal team in responding to Trump’s state suit. “For good reason, Wisconsin law, federal law, and the United States Constitution all reflect the fundamental principle that a court should not throw out these votes in an after-the-fact attempt to overturn an election.”
Biden defeated Trump with a 20,682 vote margin in Wisconsin according to a final state canvas.
Trump’s state suit was filed Tuesday after Wisconsin Elections Commission chair Ann Jacobs and Evers took the necessary procedural steps to certify the results.
A copy of the court’s order can be found on Urban Milwaukee.
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