Today the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to hear Donald Trump’s lawsuit in an attempt to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, saying the case must first wind its way through lower courts.
The legal defeat was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.
In the lawsuit, Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in how absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit also echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.
Trump had wanted the Conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly. He said there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting first with a lower court given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes. But attorneys for Gov. Tony Evers and the state Department of Justice argued that the law required the lawsuit to start with lower courts.
It was not immediately known if Trump would still pursue the case through lower courts, but he filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.
Trump challenged the Wisconsin procedures that have been in place for years and have never been found to be illegal. He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.
Trump also challenged more ballots where election clerks filled in the missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted, even though the state elections commission told clerks it was OK since it’s been a practice long accepted in Wisconsin.
He then challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. In March, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.
Attorneys for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called the lawsuit an “assault on democracy” and urged the court not to accept the case’s original jurisdiction.
Evers’ attorneys said, “President Trump’s (lawsuit) seeks nothing less than to overturn the will of nearly 3.3 million Wisconsin voters.” They said, “it is a shocking and outrageous assault on our democracy. … He is simply trying to seize Wisconsin’s electoral votes, even though he lost the statewide election.”
Two other lawsuits filed by conservatives are still pending, with the Wisconsin Supreme Court seeking to invalidate ballots cast in the presidential election. In addition to Trump’s federal lawsuit, there is another one in federal court with similar claims from Sidney Powell.
Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.