In a dazzling decision, a Philadelphia appeals court ruled on Friday that the Trump campaign could not stop – or attempt to reverse – the certification of the results of the vote in Pennsylvania, berating the president’s team by noting that “ call an unfair election does not make it unfair. therefore.”
The 21-page Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision was a complete repudiation of Mr. Trump’s legal effort to halt Pennsylvania’s certification process and was drafted by a judge he himself appointed to the bench. “Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy,” Judge Stephanos Bibas wrote on behalf of the appeals court in a unanimous decision. “Charges require specific allegations and then evidence. We don’t have either here.
Many courts have used scathing language to launch an endless barrage of lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign and its supporters since election day; but even so, the decision of the Third Circuit was particularly brutal.
“Voters, not lawyers, choose the president,” the court said at one point. “The ballots, not the writs, decide the elections.”
The court accused the Trump campaign of engaging in “repetitive litigation” and stressed that the public interest was strongly in “counting the votes of all legitimate voters, not depriving millions of voters of Pennsylvania who voted by mail ”.
Even though Republican plaintiffs have continued to file lawsuits to challenge the integrity of the election, and Mr. Trump has repeatedly baselessly questioned the election results on Twitter, judges across the country – some of them them nominated by Republicans – have maintained the line, ruling on and furthermore, the lawsuits in several swing states lack both merit and sufficient evidence.
Last week, an Atlanta federal judge appointed by Mr. Trump rejected an emergency request to halt Georgia’s certification of the vote, saying such a move “would create confusion and disenfranchisement which, in my opinion, have no basis in fact and in law ”.
Then there was the judge whose decision was upheld by Third Circuit, Matthew W. Brann of the Federal District Court in Williamsport, Penn. When Justice Brann, a former Republican official and member of the Conservative Federalist Society appointed by former President Barack Obama, inflicted Mr. Trump’s team their first legal defeat last Saturday, he compared the lawsuit to the “monster of Frankenstein, ”claiming it had been“ random. sewn together. He also noted that the lawsuit was filled with “strained legal arguments” and “speculative accusations” that were “not supported by any evidence.”
Pennsylvania’s move came a day of baseless tweets from Mr. Trump that the election was “a total scam,” that he “won a lot” and that the media “refused to report the facts and figures. real ”.
Still, when asked on Thursday if he would leave the White House if the Electoral College, as expected, formalizes Mr. Biden’s victory, the president said: “Definitely I will.”
On Friday, moments after the three-judge panel of the Third Circuit rendered its decision, Jenna Ellis, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, wrote on Twitter that she and Rudolph W. Giuliani, who heads the legal campaign post-election of the president, had planned to appeal to the Supreme Court. In her Twitter messageMs. Ellis accused “the activist Pennsylvania judiciary” of covering up “allegations of massive fraud” despite the three judges on the panel being appointed by Republicans.
But even if the Supreme Court granted the Trump campaign’s proposed request to overthrow the Third Circuit, it wouldn’t get much, given the narrow way the appeal was structured.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers had asked the appeals court only for leave to file a revised version of his original complaint with Judge Brann. If the Supreme Court followed the strict terms of the appeal, it could do nothing but send the case back to Justice Brann’s court for further action.
In a letter to the Third Circuit earlier this week, attorneys for Mr Trump had suggested that the appeals court alone could overturn the certification of the Pennsylvania vote, which took place on Tuesday when Gov. Tom Wolf signed the list. of 20 voters and consolidated President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory there. Georgia certified its vote last week after a manual recount of its five million votes left Mr Biden’s victory intact. But Mr. Trump’s lawyers have refrained from formally requesting such a ruling.
Yet the appeals court also rejected this suggestion, saying the campaign’s arguments to effectively overturn the Pennsylvania election had “no merit” and would be “drastic and unprecedented.”
“This remedy would be grossly disproportionate to the procedural challenges raised,” the judges wrote.
In the initial complaint, campaign lawyers argued that there were widespread irregularities with mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania and that Mr Trump’s ballot candidates had not been given proper access to observe voting and counting of votes.
But the appeals court dismissed these arguments as “vague and conclusive”.
Mr. Trump’s attorneys never alleged “that anyone who treated the Trump campaign or the Trump votes worse than that treated the Biden campaign or the Biden votes,” the court wrote. “And federal law does not require poll observers or specify how they can observe.”
The underlying lawsuit has been beset by legal snafus almost from the time it began on November 9.
A week after its filing, the Trump campaign was already on its third group of lawyers. On November 17, Mr. Giuliani, rushing into the case, personally appeared at a hearing before Judge Brann and gave a rambling opening statement that mentioned Mickey Mouse, former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Philadelphia Mafia.
Mr Giuliani also contradicted Mr Trump – and his own public statements – by admitting at the hearing that no one was accusing Pennsylvania election officials of fraud.
“This is not a case of fraud,” he said.
The appeals court appeared to return that statement to Mr Giuliani’s face in its decision.
“Trump’s presidential campaign claims the 2020 Pennsylvania election was unfair,” he writes. “But as lawyer Rudolph Giuliani pointed out, the campaign ‘does not plead fraud’.”