Pennsylvania: US judge dismisses Trump legal challenge to Biden election win

Attempt by president to prevent state officials certifying state’s results is labelled ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’

President Donald Trump goes golfing on Saturday as he continues to challenge the results of the 2020 election. Photograph: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Donald Trump goes golfing on Saturday as he continues to challenge the results of the 2020 election. Photograph: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

 

A US federal judge in Pennsylvania has dismissed a lawsuit critical to President Donald Trump’s bid to overturn his November 3rd election loss to Democratic president-elect Joe Biden.

The Trump campaign had sought to prevent state officials from certifying the results of the election in the state, but the judge on Saturday labelled the legal claim a “Frankenstein’s Monster”.

US district judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, described the case as “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations”.

Mr Brann said he “has no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let alone millions of citizens”.

The lawsuit before Mr Brann was filed on November 9th and had alleged inconsistent treatment by county election officials of mail-in ballots. Some counties notified voters they could fix minor defects such as missing “secrecy envelopes” while others did not.

“This claim, like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together,” wrote Mr Brann.

The judge, nominated by former president Barack Obama, is a Republican and, according to his biography, a member of the Federalist Society, a group of conservative and libertarian lawyers, law students and scholars.

Mr Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said in a statement he was disappointed with the ruling and will appeal. “Today’s decision turns out to help us in our strategy to get expeditiously to the US Supreme Court,” he said.

The campaign will ask the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to review the ruling on an accelerated timetable, according to Mr Giuliani. A majority of that circuit’s judges were nominated by Republican presidents. Four were nominated by Mr Trump.

For Mr Trump to have any hope of overturning the election, he needs to reverse the outcome in Pennsylvania, which is scheduled to be certified by state officials on Monday.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the rule of law, and for the voters of Pennsylvania, whom the Trump campaign sought to disenfranchise on the flimsiest legal theory imaginable,” wrote election law scholar Rick Hasen on Twitter.

The Trump campaign and its supporters have filed dozens of lawsuits in six closely contested states. The campaign’s only victories extended the Election Day voting hours at a handful of polling places in Nevada and set aside some provisional ballots in Pennsylvania, according to court records.

Attempts to thwart the certification of the election have failed in courts in Georgia, Michigan and Arizona.

In the Pennsylvania case, Mr Brann also denied a campaign request to amend the suit to claim violations of the US constitution. The campaign wanted him to allow Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state legislature to appoint electors who would back Mr Trump at the electoral college vote on December 14th.

Under Pennsylvania law, the candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets all the state’s electoral votes.

A presidential candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the election, and Mr Biden leads in the electoral vote count by 306-232.

Electoral votes are allocated among the 50 states and the District of Columbia based roughly on population. – Reuters