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Verdicts & Settlements

Wisconsin Supreme Court Junks Trump Campaign Lawsuit

— December 15, 2020

In a split decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s election results.

According to The Associated Press, the ruling came mere hours before Wisconsin cast its 10 Electoral College votes in favor of President-elect Joe Biden. In a split 4-3 decision, the bench’s three liberal justices were joined by conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn. Collectively, the majority found that three of President Trump’s legal claims were filed too late for consideration and that the remaining one lacked merit.

The Trump campaign had, broadly, sought to invalidate about 221,000 votes. Its lawsuits were aimed at the diverse—and predominately liberal—counties of Milwaukee and Dane, which host Wisconsin’s two most populous cities.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that the Trump campaign paid close to $3 million for a recount in both counties.

However, the results widened Biden’s win, rather than suggesting there had been any significant discrepancy in President Trump’s favor.

In his written opinion, Justice Hagedorn said that President Trump should not have waited until after he lost to challenge the validity of Wisconsin’s election processes.

A 2014 image of Donald Trump. Image from Flickr via Wikimedia Commons/user:Gage Skidmore. (CCA-BY-2.0).

“Our laws allow the challenge flat to be thrown regarding various aspects of election administration,” Hagedorn wrote. “The challenges raised by the Campaign in this case, however, come long after the last play or even the last game; the Campaign is challenging the rulebook adopted before the season began.”

However, the court’s dissenting minority said the bench should have paid closer consideration to each of the four claims detailed in the Trump campaign’s lawsuit.

“A significant portion of the public does not believe that the November 3, 2020, presidential election was fairly conducted,” Chief Justice Patience Roggensack wrote. “Once again, four justices in this court cannot be bothered with addressing what the statutes require to assure that absentee ballots are lawfully cast.”

But the remaining majority of justices keenly emphasized a fact that has recurred throughout the course of the Trump campaign’s many election-related lawsuits: that there is not and never has been any evidence of widespread voter fraud.

“Wisconsin votes complied with the election rulebook,” Justices Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky wrote. “No penalties were committed and the final score was the result of a free and fair election.”

Speaking in a statement, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said the Supreme Court’s ruling is “a repudiation of a sordid attempt to steal the authority to award our electoral votes away from the people of Wisconsin. The will of the people has arrived.”


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