Trump’s Wisconsin lawsuits drag on as Electoral College meets Monday

By: - December 14, 2020 9:44 am
Wisconsin Supreme Court Chamber, State Capitol Building, Madison

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chamber, State Capitol Building, Madison “Capitol 02-15-2012 087” by Richard Hurd is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Update: The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a ruling rejecting the Trump campaign’s lawsuit on Monday. Justice Brian Hagedorn sided with the Court’s three liberals, Justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky. Hagedorn wrote the majority opinion, which found that the effort to throw out the votes in Dane County and Milwaukee County cast by voters who identified themselves as indefinitely confined was “without merit,” and the rest of the challenges to ballots cast under rules the Trump campaign was challenging were “untimely” since they could have been filed before the election.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court was still deliberating on Monday morning after hearing oral arguments in the Trump campaign’s lawsuit seeking to throw out more than 221,000 votes in Dane and Milwaukee counties — even as Wisconsin’s 10 presidential electors prepared to meet and cast their votes for Joe Biden at noon in the state Capitol.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on Saturday, after Trump’s lawyers appealed the decision of Racine County Judge Stephen Simanek, who affirmed Biden’s victory on Friday and found “no credible evidence of any misconduct or wide scale fraud” and rejected the argument that election procedures did not comply with Wisconsin laws.

Under skeptical questioning from Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, Trump campaign attorney Jim Troupis defended his argument that his own vote should be thrown out along with the votes of hundreds of thousands of other Dane County voters as illegal.

Justice Jill Karofsky pressed Troupis on why the suit only sought to throw out votes in the Democratic leaning areas of the state, and said the lawsuit was not just “seeding, but watering and nurturing doubt about a legitimate election.”

“This lawsuit, Mr. Troupis, smacks of racism,” Karofsky said. “I do not know how you can come before this court and possibly ask us for a remedy that is unheard of in American history.”

Chief Justice Patience Roggensack said she was “troubled” by Dane County’s Democracy in the Park event, which allowed voters to drop off absentee ballots at temporary sites set up by local elections officials. 

While ballots were not provided at the parks, only collected there, some poll workers at the parks served as witnesses for voters, and Roggensack asked if that constituted early in-person voting outside the period during which early voting was permitted. 

In a separate case brought by the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a majority opinion on Monday that found Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell’s guidance to voters that they could declare themselves “indefinitely confined” due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and therefore cast an absentee ballot without presenting voter I.D. — overly broad and outside the scope of Wisconsin statutes.

Trump has also filed an appeal in a federal lawsuit that rejected his efforts to overturn the results in Wisconsin and have the Republican-controlled Legislature appoint electors. U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig ruled against Trump on Saturday, stating that the selection of the presidential electors “was conducted in the very manner established by the Wisconsin Legislature.” 

Trump attorney Sidney Powell has filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court in another case, dismissed by U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper last Wednesday, alleging “massive fraud” in the Wisconsin presidential election. 

U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper dismissed the case, writing “Federal judges do not appoint the president in this country. One wonders why the plaintiffs came to federal court and asked a federal judge to do so.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Ruth Conniff
Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.