Donald Trump's bid to overturn presidential election stumbles as judge dismisses Pennsylvania lawsuit

Our Foreign Staff
·3 min read
Donald Trump's team argued that the US Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law was violated - JIM LO SCALZO/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Donald Trump's team argued that the US Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law was violated - JIM LO SCALZO/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump's campaign that sought to throw out millions of mail-in votes in Pennsylvania.

It's a major blow to Mr Trump's flailing efforts to overturn his November 3 election loss to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.

US District Judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, described the case as "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations".

Judge Brann added that he "has no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let alone millions of citizens”.

Mr Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rudy Giuliani, personal lawyer to Donald Trump, speaks at a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Thursday - Al Drago/Bloomberg
Rudy Giuliani, personal lawyer to Donald Trump, speaks at a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Thursday - Al Drago/Bloomberg

The lawsuit, filed on November 9, alleged inconsistent treatment by county election officials of mail-in ballots.

Some counties notified voters that they could fix minor defects such as missing “secrecy envelopes” while others did not.

The lawsuit also initially alleged that Republican observers were denied access to the counting of mail-in ballots, an assertion election officials dispute. The campaign on November 15 dropped claims relating to those allegations, but later asked to add them.

Judge Brann had expressed scepticism of the lawsuit at a hearing on Tuesday.

Pennsylvania officials can certify election results that currently show Mr Biden winning the state by more than 80,000 votes, the federal judge ruled on Saturday.

"In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state," the judge said. "Our people, laws, and institutions demand more."

Mr Trump's team had argued that the US Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law was violated when Pennsylvania counties took different approaches to notifying voters before the election about technical problems with their submitted mail-in ballots.

Supporters of Donald Trump faced off with supporters of Joe Biden outside the State Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, after the media declared Mr Biden to be the winner of the 2020 US presidential election on November 7 - REUTERS/Leah Millis
Supporters of Donald Trump faced off with supporters of Joe Biden outside the State Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, after the media declared Mr Biden to be the winner of the 2020 US presidential election on November 7 - REUTERS/Leah Millis

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the seven Biden-majority counties that the campaign sued argued that Mr Trump had previously raised similar claims and lost.

They told Judge Brann the remedy the Trump campaign sought, to throw out millions of votes over alleged isolated issues, was far too extreme, particularly after most of them had been tallied.

Donald Trump - BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP
Donald Trump - BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP

"There is no justification on any level for the radical disenfranchisement they seek," Ms Boockvar's lawyers wrote in a brief filed on Thursday.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, tweeted shortly after Judge Brann's ruling, saying: "Another one bites the dust."

The state's 20 electoral votes would not have been enough on their own to hand Mr Trump a second term. Counties must certify their results to Ms Boockvar by Monday, after which she will make her own certification.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will notify the winning candidate's electors they should appear to vote in the Capitol on December 14.

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