Editor’s note: This article has been updated with links to filings at the United States Supreme Court.
An Indianapolis attorney representing President Donald Trump has asked the United States Supreme Court to overturn the results of the Wisconsin election that Trump lost to President-elect Joe Biden by more than 20,000 votes.
Kroger Gardis & Regas partner William Bock III confirmed Wednesday afternoon that a petition for writ of certioriari has been filed asking the nation’s highest court to accept Trump’s thus far unsuccessful challenge of the election in the Badger State. The 145-page petition was posted to the SCOTUS public docket Monday, as was Trump’s motion to expedite.
Bock dismissed concerns that the election challenge — one of scores nationwide that state and federal courts have rejected — sought to undermine the will of voters.
“I think that’s exactly backwards,” Bock said in a phone interview Wednesday. “In state after state … Republicans were defending the rules and the other side was changing the rules at the last minute to gain a partisan advantage.”
After Biden won by a popular vote margin of more than 7 million and an Electoral College margin of 306-232, Trump and his supporters filed dozens of lawsuits nationwide, none of which have succeeded in affecting the outcome. Trump has not conceded.
Bock represents Trump and has communicated with the president directly about the litigation, he said this week.
The suit, Donald J. Trump v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, et al., 20-883, was dismissed earlier this month by U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig. A Trump appointee in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Ludwig called the case and the relief it sought “extraordinary” and concluded that the arguments seeking to overturn the will of voters “fail as a matter of law and fact.”
A 7th Circuit panel of three judges appointed by Republican presidents agreed in a Christmas Eve decision. Judge Michael Scudder, a Trump appointee and Fort Wayne native who represents Illinois on the federal appellate bench, wrote the opinion joined by Senior Judge Joel Flaum and Judge Ilana Rovner.
“The district court concluded that the President’s challenges lacked merit, as he objected only to the administration of the election, yet the Electors Clause, by its terms, addresses the authority of the State’s Legislature to prescribe the manner of appointing its presidential electors. So, too, did the district court conclude that the President’s claims would fail even under a broader, alternative reading of the Electors Clause that extended to a state’s conduct of the presidential election,” Scudder wrote. “We agree that Wisconsin lawfully appointed its electors in the manner directed by its Legislature and add that the President’s claim also fails because of the unreasonable delay that accompanied the challenges the President now wishes to advance against Wisconsin’s election procedures.”
Specifically, the suit took aim at expanded absentee voting and drop boxes employed in Wisconsin due to the pandemic.
Bock said Wednesday he hopes the Supreme Court hears the merits of the case. “What we’re saying is the Wisconsin Legislature sets the rules and the Wisconsin Election Commission swept in and changed some of those rules,” he said, asserting a violation of Article II of the Constitution. “The ramifications were huge; they completely changed the way voting took place in Wisconsin.”
But the 7th Circuit concluded Trump had waited too long to raise challenges about how the election was administered.
Time is short for the high court to consider the petition. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to preside over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, where votes of electors are to be tabulated for formal approval that will elect Biden president. Some Republicans have vowed to challenge the electoral results, though Republican congressional leaders have cautioned members against doing so.
Bock previously declined to say whether that joint session would end Trump’s election challenge. The lawyer raised the possibility of further legal challenges even if electors were approved as well as the prospect that House and Senate members may object to the electors, which would lead to debate among members in their respective chambers.
While no election challenge has thus far undermined the certified results of elections despite litigation unprecedented in American history, Bock said he didn’t see his suit as a longshot.
“The Supreme Court will make a decision on the merits,” he said. “We’ve put forward strong arguments for relief and all we’re looking for is a hearing. … I think our arguments are very strong.”