Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects Trump’s election lawsuit

By: - December 3, 2020 1:15 pm
Wisconsin Supreme Court chambers at the Capitol

Supreme Court chamber, Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin. “Supreme Court chamber through the cast iron doors. Mural by Albert Herter depicts signing of U.S. Constitution.” by Photo Phiend via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Citing the Wisconsin statute that directs candidates who wish to appeal a recount to circuit court, the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday denied President Donald Trump’s petition in Trump v. Evers to take up its challenge of Wisconsin’s presidential election results.

“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,” Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote in a concurrence with the majority in the 4-3 order. “But challenges to election results are also governed by law.”

Hagedorn, a conservative, was joined by the Court’s three liberals, Jill Karofsky, Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Dallet, in rejecting the Trump lawsuit.

Wisconsin statute, Hagedorn wrote, “provides that these actions should be filed in the circuit court, and spells out detailed procedures for ensuring their orderly and swift disposition.”

“I do think what they are doing is procedurally improper,” Evers’ attorney, Jeffrey Mandell, said of the Trump campaign’s petition to the Supreme Court before the Court issued its order. “An appeal from a recount must begin in a circuit court. That’s because it’s very fact-intensive, and trial courts are designed to examine the facts.”

In a dissent, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack wrote, “If we do not shoulder our responsibilities, we leave future elections to flounder and potentially result in the public’s perception that Wisconsin elections are unfair.”

In a separate dissent, Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that “the integrity of every election will be tarnished by the public’s mistrust until the Wisconsin Supreme Court accepts its responsibility to declare what the election laws say.”

Hagedorn replied to these criticisms: “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”

The Trump campaign had sought to throw out more than 200,000 ballots in Dane and Milwaukee counties, arguing that they were improperly cast under absentee voting procedures that have been in place for years. The campaign’s challenges of those ballots failed during the recount, and Gov. Tony Evers certified Wisconsin’s election results on Monday.  2020AP1971-OA

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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 the author of "Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers" which won the 2022 Studs and Ida Terkel award from The New Press. She 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 lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.