In a 5-3 vote, the Wisconsin Supreme Court yesterday threw out yet another Trump legal challenge to the election. Such actions by courts around the country have become so routine as to be hardly worth noting, though if one is counting, there have been 46 such losses by Trump and his allies.
What I want to highlight is the incredulous tone of the majority opinion issued by justice Brian Hagedorn of both the merits of the challenge and the asked for remedy.
The Wisconsin Voters Alliance and a group of Wisconsin voters bring a petition for an original action raising a variety of questions about the operation of the November 3, 2020 presidential election. Some of these legal issues may, under other circumstances, be subject to further judicial consideration. But the real stunner here is the sought-after remedy. We are invited to invalidate the entire presidential election in Wisconsin by declaring it “null”—yes, the whole thing. And there’s more. We should, we are told, enjoin the Wisconsin Elections Commission from certifying the election so that Wisconsin’s presidential electors can be chosen by the legislature instead, and then compel the Governor to certify those electors. At least no one can accuse the petitioners of timidity.
Such a move would appear to be unprecedented in American history. One might expect that this solemn request would be paired with evidence of serious errors tied to a substantial and demonstrated set of illegal votes. Instead, the evidentiary support rests almost entirely on the unsworn expert report of a former campaign employee that offers statistical estimates based on call center samples and social media research.
This petition falls far short of the kind of compelling evidence and legal support we would undoubtedly need to countenance the court-ordered disenfranchisement of every Wisconsin voter. The petition does not even justify the exercise of our original jurisdiction.
Nonetheless, I feel compelled to share a further observation. Something far more fundamental than the winner of Wisconsin’s electoral votes is implicated in this case. At stake, in some measure, is faith in our system of free and fair elections, a feature central to the enduring strength of our constitutional republic. It can be easy to blithely move on to the next case with a petition so obviously lacking, but this is sobering. The relief being sought by the petitioners is the most dramatic invocation of judicial power I have ever seen. Judicial acquiescence to such entreaties built on so flimsy a foundation would do indelible damage to every future election. Once the door is opened to judicial invalidation of presidential election results, it will be awfully hard to close that door again. This is a dangerous path we are being asked to tread. The loss of public trust in our constitutional order resulting from the exercise of this kind of judicial power would be incalculable.
I do not mean to suggest this court should look the other way no matter what. But if there is a sufficient basis to invalidate an election, it must be established with evidence and arguments commensurate with the scale of the claims and the relief sought. These petitioners have come nowhere close. While the rough and tumble world of electoral politics may be the prism through which many view this litigation, it cannot be so for us. In these hallowed halls, the law must rule. [My italics-MS]
It should be clear by now that these cases are not being brought with any hope of winning them. They are just fund-raising measures the appear to be quite successful in that people have contributed over $200 million to the legal defense cause, not realizing that most it goes into a slush fund for Trump to use as he wishes.
The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, his two joint fundraising committees and the president’s leadership committee, Save America, raised over $200 million since Election Day. Save America will likely be used to fund any political initiatives Trump is planning after he leaves the White House, including possibly running for president again in 2024.
Reuters reported last month that large chunks of contributions are, in fact, not going toward efforts to overturn the election results and instead are going to Save America or the Republican National Committee. The fine print on the Trump election defense fund donation page says that “75% of each contribution [goes] first to Save America, up to $5,000,” suggesting that a majority of contributions to the legal matter actually go to Trump’s committee for other purposes.
‘Other purposes’ are likely to include going directly into Trump’s pockets or indirectly via his properties.
Grifters gotta grift.