By suing Pence, Gohmert hoped to give the vice president the power to allocate Electoral College votes as he sees fit.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Vice President Mike Pence, which was filed late last month by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-AZ) and several Arizona Republicans.
According to CNN, Judge Jeremy Kernodle of the Eastern District of Texas found that Gohmert and his conservative allies lacked proper legal standing.
In his complaint, Gohmert challenged a century-old law that controls the Electoral College and dictates its processes. Gohmert had, in effect, hoped to leverage Pence’s position as vice president. While Pence and his predecessors ceremonially oversee the counting and certification of Electoral College ballots each January, Gohmert contended that Pence has the unilateral power to allocate votes. In other words, Pence could—conceivably—force a state that had voted for a Democratic candidate to shift its alignment to a conservative.
By suing the vice president, Gohmert hoped to coerce Pence into accepting this potential power—and then use it to turn the 2020 election to President Donald Trump’s favor.
However, Judge Kernodle—himself a Trump appointee—said that Gohmert did not have standing to sue Pence over his vice presidential duties. Kernodle suggested that, should Gohmert wish to continue his suit, he file a complaint against Congress instead.
Kernodle’s decision comes a day after the U.S. Department of Justice asked the courts to dismiss Gohmert’s lawsuit.
Pence, through his government-appointed attorneys, had also asked that the suit be dismissed.
“A suit to establish that the Vice President has discretion over the count, filed against the Vice President, is a walking legal contradiction,” Pence’s filing stated.
“Ironically, Representative Gohmert’s position, if adopted by the Court, would actually deprive him of his opportunity as a Member of the House under the Electoral Count Act to raise objections to the counting of electoral votes, and then to debate and vote on them,” it said.
President Trump, notes The New York Times, was purportedly unhappy with the Justice Department’s decision. The commander-in-chief, suggests the Times, did not appreciate a federal entity defending Pence against the lawsuit, given that the suit was filed by the president’s own supporters.
CNN says that President Trump—who may not have been brief on Gohmert’s initial complaint—has since taken an interest in the case, despite Pence and others’ insistence that the vice president’s role overseeing the Electoral College counts is merely ceremonial.
Somewhat ironically, other branches of government—including the House of Representatives—have offered their own rebukes to Gohmert’s litigation. House Counsel Doug Letter, for instance, filed his own brief with Kernodle on Thursday, calling the Texas Republican’s lawsuit “a radical departure from our constitutional procedures and consistent legislative practices.”
“At bottom,” Letter said, “this litigation seeks to enlist the federal courts in a belated and meritless assault on longstanding constitutional processes for confirming the results of a national election for President.”
Gohmert has since indicated that he will appeal Kernodle’s ruling.