Federal Judge Dismisses Trump’s Election Lawsuit in Wisconsin

December 12, 2020 Updated: December 12, 2020

A federal judge on Saturday dismissed President Donald Trump’s lawsuit in Wisconsin that sought to declare election officials had acted unconstitutionally during the 2020 presidential election.

U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig, a Trump appointee, declined to rule in favor of Trump, opining that the president had failed to show Wisconsin election officials had violated his right under the Electors Clause in the U.S. constitution.

Instead, Ludwig said he found that Wisconsin’s presidential electors were being chosen “in the very manner directed by the Legislature,” as required by the constitution.

The president filed the lawsuit against the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) and other state officials on Dec. 2, alleging that they violated the constitution when the WEC issued guidance on “missing or incorrect absentee ballot witness certificate addresses, voters claiming indefinitely confined status, and absentee ballot drop boxes.”

The lawsuit argues that WEC lacked the power to issue guidance that violated the state’s own election laws as passed by the Wisconsin state legislature.

To remedy the situation, Trump asked the court to declare that election officials had violated the constitution and to order the Wisconsin Legislature to provide appropriate relief pursuant to Article II, Section 1.2 in the constitution.

“Plaintiff’s requests for relief are even more extraordinary,” Ludwig wrote in his opinion (pdf).

He concluded that the president’s claims that election officials violated the Electors Clause “fail as a matter of law and fact.”

“This is an extraordinary case. A sitting president who did not prevail in his bid for reelection has asked for federal court help in setting aside the popular vote based on disputed issues of election administration, issues he plainly could have raised before the vote occurred,” the judge wrote. “This Court has allowed plaintiff the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits.”

This comes on the same day the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard a separate election case filed by the president against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Trump attorney Jim Troupis faced a barrage of questions about his claims from both liberal and conservative justices on the bench. That case asks the court to toss more than 221,000 absentee ballots, including his own, saying they were cast fraudulently based on incorrect interpretations of the law by elections officials.

“What you want is for us to overturn this election so that your king can stay in power,” said liberal Justice Jill Karofsky. “That is so un-American.”

Meanwhile, conservative justices appeared to be sympathetic to some issues raised by Trump but also questioned how they could fairly disqualify ballots only in the two counties where Trump sought a recount and not other counties where the same procedures were followed.

Biden attorney John Devaney said tossing any ballots in just those two counties would be a violation of the constitution’s equal protection clause.

He asked the court to rule before Monday, when Wisconsin’s ten Electoral College votes are scheduled to be cast for Biden. Trump asked for a ruling before Jan. 6, the day Congress counts the Electoral College votes.

The cases are cited as Trump v. The Wisconsin Elections Commission (2:20-cv-01785) and Trump v. Biden (2020CV007092).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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