Overall, Republican legal challenges to the 2020 election continue to fail spectacularly. On November 13 alone, Trump and his allies failed nine times in court.
Even Republican-appointed federal judges, including one appointed by Trump himself, have made clear how ridiculous these suits are:
- Rejecting an attempt to stop the certification of the vote in Georgia, a Trump appointee said: “to halt the certification at literally the 11th hour would breed confusion and potential disenfranchisement that, I find, has no basis in fact or in law.”
- After attorneys attempted to make their case in a Pennsylvania hearing, an appointee of President W. Bush responded plainly: “I do not understand how the integrity of the election was affected.”
- And in another federal hearing in Pennsylvania, after the Trump campaign presented their case, another Bush-appointed federal judge asked Trump’s lawyers: “I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?”
At the state level, judges have been equally clear in their condemnation of Trump’s attempts to distort the election results. One judge in Michigan called accusations of fraud: “incorrect and not credible.”
As lawyers across the country continue to withdraw their names from Republican suits, Trump has put Rudy Giuliani in charge of his campaign’s legal strategy. The current state of affairs in Pennsylvania, the state Trump has most targeted for litigation, shows the weakness of the president’s legal arguments. The campaign’s continued appearances in court are a PR stunt that are harmful to our democracy, but not any real challenge to the fact that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.
Previously, the campaign had filed a far-ranging and widely mocked federal suit that alleged the state had created an unconstitutional two-tiered voting system, arguing that hundreds of thousands of mail-in and absentee ballots should be thrown out. After filing the suit, the law firm Porter Wright moved to withdraw from representing the campaign.
Now, with Giuliani at the helm, the campaign’s legal arguments have devolved even further into a blatant attempt to overturn the election results in the state: the campaign’s newest complaint asks the court to either call the election for Trump or allow state legislators to overrule the popular vote. This came just days after three local lawyers requested to withdraw from the case, replaced by a Pennsylvania lawyer who is a former aide to Rick Santorum and who has previously said the lawsuits at hand “will not reverse this election.”
In addition to this federal suit, the campaign has also continued to file lawsuits to attempt to invalidate a small number of ballots in the state — none of which, regardless of outcome, would change the fact that Biden won Pennsylvania.
Finally, the Supreme Court has not taken action in regard to an absentee ballot case out of Pennsylvania that the Trump campaign is urging SCOTUS to take up. That case challenges the state’s decision, declared lawful by the state supreme court, to give voters extra time to send in their ballots, given the COVID pandemic. It is important to note that, even if the Trump campaign were to succeed, this case would not change the results of the election.
Litigation may continue in other states outside of Pennsylvania, but the campaign faces extremely dim prospects of success in those states as well. Trump been handed repeated losses in court across the country, but even if he had won most of those suits, Joe Biden would remain the president-elect. In Arizona, for example, a judge dismissed the lawsuit on Nov. 13, after Trump campaign attorney Kory Langhofer admitted that only about 190 ballots were at issue in their suit.
The wave of lawyers leaving the campaign’s efforts makes clear there is no actual legal basis to challenge the 2020 election results. The presidential race has been called and Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States. Trump, as his days in office come to an end, should stop trying to use the courts to cast doubt on our democracy and instead turn to working with the president-elect to address the pandemic and ensure a smooth transfer of power.