Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down Trump Case
4-3 vote rejects Trump's move to throw out 220,000 Milwaukee and Dane county ballots.
The decision comes less than two hours before Wisconsin’s 10 Electoral College delegates are scheduled to vote for Joe Biden. Wisconsin was the lone state to miss the December 8th “safe harbor” deadline by which all state election challenges were to be settled.
The Trump campaign sought to toss out four different categories of absentee ballots totaling 220,000, but only such votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties.
“The Campaign’s request to strike indefinitely confined voters in Dane and Milwaukee Counties as a class without regard to whether any individual voter was in fact indefinitely confined has no basis in reason or law; it is wholly without merit,” wrote the four justices.
The Trump campaign also sought to have all in-person absentee ballots tossed on the basis of an insufficient application as well as those where clerks completed a known, but incomplete address (“mismatched ink”). A fourth challenge was made specifically to a Democracy in the Park event in Madison where the municipal clerk accepted previously requested ballots in advance of in-person absentee voting’s start date.
The four justices ruled that the Trump campaign failed the laches doctrine, where a defendant must not unreasonably delay its claim. Attorneys for the defendants argued that the Trump campaign did not complain when the same laws and practices were in effect in 2016 when Trump won the state.
“In short, if the relief the Campaign sought was granted, it would invalidate nearly a quarter of a million ballots cast in reliance on interpretations of Wisconsin’s election laws that were well-known before election day. It would apply new interpretive guidelines retroactively to only two counties,” wrote Hagedorn, in an opinion joined by Walsh Bradley, Dallet and Karofsky. “To the extent we have not made this clear in the past, we do so now. Parties bringing election-related claims have a special duty to bring their claims in a timely manner.”
“We conclude the challenge to indefinitely confined voter ballots is without merit, and that laches bars relief on the remaining three categories of challenged ballots,” wrote Hagedorn.
“As acknowledged by the President’s counsel at oral argument, the President would have the people of this country believe that fraud took place in Wisconsin during the November 3, 2020 election,” wrote Dallet and Karofsky in a separate opinion. “Nothing could be further from the truth. The President failed to point to even one vote cast in this election by an ineligible voter; yet he asks this court to disenfranchise over 220,000 voters.”
“The majority basically reiterates respondents’ soundbites. In so doing, the majority seems to create a new bright-line rule that the candidates and voters are without recourse and without any notice should the court decide to later conjure up an artificial deadline concluding that it prefers that something would have been done earlier. That has never been the law, and it should not be today. It is a game of ‘gotcha,'” wrote Ziegler in an opinion joined by Roggensack and Rebecca Bradley.
Trump was represented by Jim Troupis, who was attempting to have his own absentee ballot thrown out.
A challenge to Wisconsin’s election results in federal court is being appealed by Trump. A Trump appointee, Judge Brett Ludwig, rejected Trump’s request over the weekend, but his campaign is appealing the decision.
A full copy of the ruling can be found on Urban Milwaukee.
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