While a few conservative justices are receptive to part of the campaign’s argument, none seem inclined to disenfranchise voters en masse.
Attorneys for the Trump campaign are asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to invalidate hundreds of thousands of ballots cast in the state’s most heavily populated counties.
According to The Associated Press, the campaign’s arguments before the state Supreme Court follow the failure of several other lawsuits. Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig—himself a Trump appointee—dismissed another of the president’s complaints, which sought an order permitting Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature to override the election counts and name Trump the winner.
In his decision, Ludwig said that Trump’s arguments “fail as a matter of law and fact.”
However, the campaign’s case is still making a stand in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes, many of the bench’s more liberal justices have signaled skepticism of the suit, with one going so far as to say it “smacks of racism.”
That’s because the Trump campaign only wants to dismiss ballots counted in Dane and Milwaukee counties—the seats of Wisconsin’s two biggest, most diverse cities. Like other urban areas in the United States, both counties lean liberal and overwhelmingly voted in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.
The fact that the campaign’s lawsuit targets voters in such diverse areas was clearly a problem for Justice Jill Karofsky. Speaking to Trump attorney Jim Troupis, Karofsky said the president was essentially and effectively asking the court to disenfranchise voters.
“This lawsuit, Mr. Troupis, smacks of racism,” Karofsky said. “I do not know how you can come before this court and possibly ask for a remedy that is unheard of in U.S. history […] it is not normal.”
Similarly, Justice Rebecca Dallet—a Democrat, like Karofsky—wondered why President Trump had not challenged the inherent fairness of Wisconsin’s voting procedures in 2016, when he won the state by a small margin.
Specifically, Troupis identified a change in Wisconsin’s voting protocol that was problematic. In the past, the state required prospective voters to fill out two forms to cast a ballot; from 2016 onwards, Wisconsin has required only one.
Troupis went so far as to say that his own vote should be discarded, since himself had only filled out one form.
“What I’m hearing you say then, is really the form was fine in 2016 when it helped the president to win, but now in 2020, when he has not won the state of Wisconsin, there is something illegal or improper about this form,” Dallet said.
Troupis, though, simply said that Trump was not an aggrieved party in 2016 and therefore had no reason or cause to contest the election results. He further suggested that the court hear only the facts insofar as they pertain to the law.
“This whole case is about fraud,” Troupis said. “The statutes are in place because they presume if you do not follow them, there is fraud.”
The Associated Press notes that, even though several conservative justices appeared open to some aspects of Troupis’s argument, they are nonetheless reluctant to discard vast numbers of legally-cast votes.