President Donald Trump lost a federal lawsuit Saturday while his attorney was arguing his case before a skeptical Wisconsin Supreme Court in another lawsuit that liberal justices said “smacks of racism” and would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters only in the state’s most diverse counties.
U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig, a Trump appointee, dismissed Trump’s federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of Wisconsin that asked the court to order the Republican-controlled Legislature to name Trump the winner over Democrat Joe Biden. The judge said Trump’s arguments, made during a remote hearing last week by Indianapolis attorney William Bock III of Kroger Gardis & Regas “fail as a matter of law and fact.”
“This is an extraordinary case,” Ludwig wrote in his opinion issued Saturday in Donald J. Trump v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, et al., 2:20-cv-1785.
“A sitting president who did not prevail in his bid for reelection has asked for federal court help in setting aside the popular vote based on disputed issues of election administration, issues he plainly could have raised before the vote occurred. This Court has allowed plaintiff the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits. In his reply brief, plaintiff ‘asks that the Rule of Law be followed.’ … It has been.”
Trump’s lawyers filed a notice of appeal the same day Ludwig’s order was issued.
The ruling came as Trump attorney Jim Troupis faced a barrage of questions in a separate Wisconsin case about his claims from both liberal and conservative justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Troupis asked the court to toss more than 221,000 absentee ballots, including his own, saying they were cast fraudulently based on incorrect interpretations of the law by elections officials.
“What you want is for us to overturn this election so that your king can stay in power,” said liberal Justice Jill Karofsky. “That is so un-American.”
Conservative justices appeared to be sympathetic to some issues raised by Trump, but also questioned how they could fairly disqualify ballots only in the two counties where Trump sought a recount and not other counties where the same procedures were followed.
Biden attorney John Devaney said tossing any ballots in just those two counties would be a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause.
Trump is challenging ballots only in Milwaukee and Dane counties, the state’s most liberal counties with the largest non-white populations. He is not challenging any votes in more conservative counties where he won.
“This lawsuit, Mr. Troupis, smacks of racism,” Karofsky said. “I do not know how you can come before this court and possibly ask for a remedy that is unheard of in U.S. history. … It is not normal.”
Justice Rebecca Dallet, another liberal justice, questioned why Trump didn’t raise his same concerns about the absentee ballot process in the 2016 election that he won in Wisconsin. Troupis said Trump was not an aggrieved party that year.
Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, a conservative, voiced concerns with ballots that the city of Madison collected over two weekends at parks, saying that appeared to be the same as early voting, which had not started yet.
Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley also implied that the court must not allow for ballots to be counted if they were cast contrary to the law. But she questioned how the court could fairly disqualify more than 28,000 ballots cast by people who said they were indefinitely confined, given that some were.
The court in March said it was up to individual voters to determine whether they were “indefinitely confined,” a designation that allowed voters to cast absentee ballots without showing a valid photo ID.
During Saturday’s arguments, other conservative justices raised concerns with allowing election officials to fill in missing information on envelopes that contain absentee ballots. And Troupis, who voted that way, said that he believes his vote was cast illegally and should be discounted.
Biden won Wisconsin by about 20,600 votes, a margin of 0.6% that withstood a Trump-requested recount in Milwaukee and Dane counties.
Biden’s attorney asked the court to rule before Monday, when Wisconsin’s 10 Electoral College votes are scheduled to be cast for Biden. Trump asked for a ruling before Jan. 6, the day Congress counts the Electoral College votes.
Trump and his allies have suffered dozens of defeats in Wisconsin and across the country in lawsuits that rely on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud and election abuse. On Friday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Texas lawsuit that sought to invalidate Biden’s win by throwing out millions of votes in four battleground states, including Wisconsin.
Also Saturday, former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a federal case she lost in Wisconsin seeking to order the GOP-controlled Legislature to declare Trump the winner. Powell has lost similar cases in Georgia and Arizona.