MADISON – The state Supreme Court showed deep divisions on Saturday as it pondered a final push by President Donald Trump to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory in Wisconsin.
The Arguments – a rarity on a weekend – came amid a string of legal setbacks for the president. A federal judge in Milwaukee during the argument ruled against TrumpTrump and his allies inflicted the seventh loss in 10 days because of Wisconsin’s results.
The three liberals at the state’s Supreme Court were extremely skeptical of Trump’s arguments. Three conservatives have shown support for at least some parts of his claims.
The views of Justice Brian Hagedorn, who was elected with the support of the Republicans last year, but at times sided with the Liberals, were unclear. He joined the Liberals last week in opposing three more challenges to the Wisconsin election results.
In the latter case, the judges are expected to rule before the electoral college meets on Monday afternoon.
Biden won Wisconsin with around 21,000 votes out of 3.3 million votes cast, giving him a profit margin of 0.6 percentage points. Trump paid $ 3 million for a recount in Dane and Milwaukee counties, but the recount slightly enlarged Biden’s victory.
Trump filed a lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court, however The judges rejected it 4-3 last weekand said he should start in court.
Trump then filed a new lawsuit on Friday and the reserve judge Stephen Simanek ruled against TrumpOfficials said they held fair elections that were free from widespread fraud and wrongdoing.
Hours later, Trump appealed, asking the Supreme Court to take the case instead of taking it to the appeals court. The judges agreed to take the case and scheduled the arguments for Saturday.
A search for 220,000 ballot papers
Trump attorney Jim Troupis argued that several electoral practices in Wisconsin – some of them long-standing – are illegal. He said the vote was fraudulent, but that the fraud was committed by employees and election workers rather than voters.
“This whole case is about fraud,” says Troupis. “The statutes are in effect because if you do not follow them they presume there is fraud.”
He faced harsh questions from the court liberals who said it was unfair for him to try to remove more than 220,000 ballots in the most populous districts of the state while abandoning ballots in other districts the same way were submitted.
“This lawsuit, Mr. Troupis, smells like racism,” said Judge Jill Karofsky.
Troupis said Trump limited his recount to the Dane and Milwaukee counties as a statewide recount would cost nearly $ 8 million. Karofsky scoffed at the thought, alluding to the more than $ 170 million the president has raised since election day.
“This is not about the amount of money that recount cost,” she said. “This is about disenfranchising voters in two counties and only two counties in the state of Wisconsin.”
Karofsky won a seat on the square this year. She said before the election she would never vote for Trump and said There were so many reasons why she resisted him She didn’t know where to start.
Troupis argued that employees were mistaken in putting witnesses’ addresses on postal voting envelopes, and Judges Rebecca Bradley and Annette Ziegler expressed sympathy for those concerns.
The policy that enables employees to register witness addresses was drawn up four years ago at the behest of the Republicans in the state electoral commission. In some cases the clerks fill in the full addresses, in others they just add the city or state if the witness didn’t provide them. Bradley stressed that state law, not commission guidance, must be followed.
Troupis also challenged the “Democracy in the Park” events held in Madison prior to the election, where poll workers were stationed in more than 200 locations to collect postal ballot papers. Election officials have compared the events to the postal voting boxes cities have set up across the state.
But Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and Ziegler were skeptical of this theory. Roggensack said she feared the events would allow for an early personal vote before the state’s two-week early voting period begins.
“I’m worried this is an early voting, OK? It happened well before October 20th when the early voting was about to begin,” she said. “It’s almost the same when you vote in person.”
Deputy Attorney General Colin Roth, who defended the election officials, disagreed. He said it was not a form of early personal voting as voters would need to receive postal ballot papers in advance.
State law allows voters to hand in postal ballot papers to employees, but Roggensack said this should be done in employees’ offices, not “here, there, and everywhere.”
In its broadest argument, Troupis alleged that the personal early voting was conducted illegally. He claimed state law required voters to fill out two forms instead of one and claimed that his own ballot should be discarded because he only had. filled out a form.
Employees have been using a form for more than a decade. Judge Rebecca Dallet noted that the only form used was when Trump won Wisconsin four years ago.
“Then what I hear from you is that the form was really fine in 2016 when it helped the president win, but now, in 2020, if he didn’t win the state of Wisconsin, the form has something illegal or inappropriate,” said Dallet.
The employees claimed by Troupis gave too much leeway to voters to decide whether they were confined to their homes. Voters who identify themselves as indefinite are not required to present photo ID to vote absent, as others are required to.
About 215,000 voters have claimed status and Republicans claim some of them do not meet the criteria. Democrats have said the increase in people considering themselves limited indefinitely is not surprising due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bradley raised a number of questions about the practice while Liberal judges said there was little evidence that voters wrongly claimed to be indefinite.
The judges are already examining the issue in a lawsuit filed by the Republican Party earlier this year.
In Friday’s ruling, Simanek noted that the state Electoral Commission’s guidelines for administering the Perpetual Detention Act “were essentially approved by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.” in a first decision In this case.
Legal setbacks for Trump
The case comes after a string of defeats for Trump in Wisconsin and across the country.
Last week the state Supreme Court dismissed three lawsuits seeking to overturn the state’s findings. This week, in addition to Simanek’s decision, the US Supreme Court declined an attempt from Texas To overturn the results in Wisconsin and three other states, two federal judges in Milwaukee threw back two cases to dispel the state’s results. The last of these was issued on Saturday by US District Judge Brett Ludwig, a Trump candidate.
The previous Supreme Court rulings show the challenges Trump faces before the judges.
A majority refused to bring his original lawsuit, and two of the three dissidents, Roggensack and Ziegler, were reluctant to cast a large number of votes, as Trump asked.
in the another 4-3 decision In a different challenge than last week’s election results, Hagedorn wrote a consensus statement expressing concern over the prospect of tossing the will of voters aside.
“This is a dangerous road to take,” he wrote. “The loss of public confidence in our constitutional order as a result of exercising this type of judicial power would be incalculable.”
Hagedorn mostly listened on Saturday and occasionally asked technical questions.
Federal court goes against Trump
When the state judges discussed their case, Ludwig issued his decision from the Bundesbank. Ruling against Trump, he concluded that state officials had followed Wisconsin laws in conducting the November 3rd election.
Ludwig described the case as “extraordinary”.
“A seated president, who did not win his bid for re-election, has asked the federal court for assistance to overturn the referendum on controversial issues of the electoral administration that he apparently could have addressed before the vote,” he wrote.
“This court gave the plaintiff the opportunity to represent his case and he lost the case. In his reply, the plaintiff called for ‘respect for the rule of law’. It was.”
In his federal lawsuit, Trump challenged many of the electoral policies he argues against in a state court.
Ludwig noted that lawmakers had given the Wisconsin Elections Commission the opportunity to advise employees on how to set up their election process. If he stands up for Trump, any lost candidate can run to court after each election, he wrote.