The Trump campaign’s lawsuit seeking to block the certification of Pennsylvania’s election was dismissed with prejudice by a federal court judge on Saturday.
U.S. Middle District of Pennsylvania Judge Matthew Brann made the decision after days of motions filed on both sides and after hearing oral arguments on Tuesday from President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who took over the case last week.
In a scathing critique of the legal basis for the case, Brann wrote that Trump’s lawyers “ask this Court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters” but “this Court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated.”
“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this Court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens,” Brann ruled. “That has not happened.”
The judge, an Obama appointee unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2012, said that the plaintiffs offered “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.”
Giuliani, along with Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to Trump 2020 campaign, released a statement that said the Trump team will appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
“Today’s decision turns out to help us in our strategy to get expeditiously to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although we fully disagree with this opinion, we’re thankful to the Obama-appointed judge for making this anticipated decision quickly, rather than simply trying to run out the clock,” they said.
Trump’s team contended that Democratic-majority counties in Pennsylvania wrongfully allowed voters to “cure” errors in their submitted absentee ballots, while some Republican counties didn’t count ballots that were deemed deficient. The campaign was hoping to have an emergency order issued that would block the Keystone State from certifying the results.
Tuesday’s hearing went on for hours, as Giuliani made a host of claims, lawyers for Pennsylvania’s election officials pushed back, and the judge pressed the Trump team with questions.
“If this is allowed without serious sanctions, this will become an epidemic … You give them an inch they’ll take a mile. They’ve already taken a mile, now they’ll take the whole city. They stole an election,” Giuliani said Tuesday, further claiming, “It just all happened to be in big cities controlled by Democrats who all of a sudden decided you don’t have the right to inspect an absentee ballot … You’d have to be a fool to think this was an accident.”
Daniel Donavan, a lawyer for Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, told the judge that “there is no claim that any voter cast more than one ballot, that a voter had his ballot wrongfully rejected, that anyone not eligible to vote voted” and that no actual voter fraud was being alleged.
“This is not a fraud case,” Giuliani said. When asked by the judge if he was making the claim that there had been voter fraud, the Trump lawyer replied, “No, your honor, we are not,” although he followed up by saying it was a “fraudulent process.” The judge replied, “So you are alleging a fraud.”
Trump’s lawyers relied largely upon equal protection constitutional claims, which the judge rejected at length on Saturday.
“The general gist of their claims is that Secretary Boockvar, by failing to prohibit counties from implementing a notice-and-cure policy, and Defendant Counties, by adopting such a policy, have created a ‘standardless’ system and thus unconstitutionally discriminated against Individual Plaintiffs,” Brann wrote. In rejecting the Trump claims, he said, “Defendant Counties, by implementing a notice-and-cure procedure, have in fact lifted a burden on the right to vote, even if only for those who live in those counties. Expanding the right to vote for some residents of a state does not burden the rights of others… No county was forced to adopt notice-and-cure; each county made a choice to do so, or not. Because it is not irrational or arbitrary for a state to allow counties to expand the right to vote if they so choose, Individual Plaintiffs fail to state an equal-protection claim.”
The Trump team had projected confidence about the court hearing, with Ellis tweeting on Tuesday evening that “you media morons are all laughing at Rudy Giuliani, but he appears to have already established a great rapport with the judge, who is currently offering recommendations on martini bars for Team Trump in open court.”
The Saturday ruling was another blow to the Trump campaign’s effort to contest the election results in several states including Michigan, where the Trump team dismissed its federal lawsuit last week.
President-elect Joe Biden was projected to win Pennsylvania on Nov. 7, giving him more than the 270 Electoral College votes needed to carry the White House. Counties must certify their election totals by Monday, after which Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is expected to make her own certification. The Electoral College meets on Dec. 14.
“We will be seeking an expedited appeal to the Third Circuit. There is so much evidence that in Pennsylvania, Democrats eliminated our opportunity to present 50 witnesses and other evidence that election officials blatantly ignored Pennsylvania’s law denying independent review. This resulted in 682,777 ballots being cast illegally, wittingly or unwittingly. This is just an extension of the Big Tech, Big Media, Corrupt Democrat censorship of damning facts the American public needs to know,” Giuliani and Ellis said.
“We are disappointed we did not at least get the opportunity to present our evidence at a hearing. Unfortunately the censorship continues. We hope that the Third Circuit will be as gracious as Judge Brann in deciding our appeal one way or the other as expeditiously as possible. This is another case that appears to be moving quickly to the United States Supreme Court,” they added.