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Federal Judge Denies Trump Lawsuit In Wisconsin

Saturday's Decision Handed Down By Judge Brett Ludwig, A Trump Nominee

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Courtesy calinjurylawyer/Public Domain

A federal judge has struck down another one of President Donald Trump’s lawsuits seeking to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Wisconsin, ruling Saturday that the rule of law was followed in the state’s election.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig, who was nominated by Trump, was the seventh loss for the president and his allies in their efforts to overturn Wisconsin’s election.

“This is an extraordinary case,” Ludwig wrote. “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.”

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Ludwig said Trump had been given the chance to make his case, and he had lost.

“Plaintiff ‘asks that the Rule of Law be followed,’” Ludwig wrote. “It has been.”

Ludwig issued his decision Saturday afternoon while Trump’s campaign was making arguments in another lawsuit before a skeptical, sometimes adversarial Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Trump’s federal lawsuit challenged three groups of absentee voters, saying they relied on guidance from clerks and the Wisconsin Elections Commission that was inconsistent with state law.

Trump’s campaign argued that guidance had “likely” tainted more than 50,000 ballots, asking Ludwig to declare the entire election unconstitutional, sending the case back to the Wisconsin Legislature to pick its own presidential electors.

In a hearing for the federal case Friday, Ludwig said he found it “incredible” Trump had waited to challenge the absentee voting procedures until after the election, adding that the remedy Trump was asking of the court was “probably the most remarkable ruling in the history of this court or the federal judiciary.”

On Saturday, Ludwig made clear that he did not believe Trump had met the threshold for taking such an unprecedented step.

“Because plaintiff has failed to show a clear departure from the Wisconsin Legislature’s directives, his complaint must be dismissed,” Ludwig said. “There has been no violation of the Constitution.”

Trump’s federal lawsuit challenged Wisconsin Election Commission guidance that clerks should fill in missing address information for people who witness absentee ballots. Ludwig noted this policy had been in place since 2016.

“This has been the unchallenged guidance on the issue for more than four years,” Ludwig wrote.

The president’s lawsuit also argued the commission’s guidelines led to too many absentee voters claiming that they were “indefinitely confined,” which lets them submit an absentee ballot application without providing a photo ID first.

Trump also argued the absentee ballot drop boxes used by many Wisconsin communities were illegal.

Ludwig rejected those arguments.

“The record does not show any significant departure from the legislative scheme during Wisconsin’s 2020 Presidential election,” Ludwig wrote. “The Court finds these issues do not remotely rise to the level of a material or significant departure from Wisconsin Legislature’s plan for choosing Presidential Electors.”

Trump could potentially appeal Ludwig’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Saturday’s ruling was just the latest legal setback for Trump in Wisconsin.

Another federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Wisconsin’s election, filed by attorney Sidney Powell, was rejected late Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Pepper. Powell has appealed the ruling.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeking to overturn elections in Wisconsin and three other states.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has already rejected two lawsuits, one filed by Chippewa Falls attorney Karen Mueller, the other filed by The Thomas More Society, a conservative law firm based in Chicago, on behalf of a group called the “Wisconsin Voters Alliance.”

The Wisconsin Supreme Court also denied Trump’s first attempt at his state lawsuit, ruling 4-3 the case must start in circuit court first.

Trump refiled the case in circuit court, where Racine County Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek ruled against the Trump campaign Friday.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court could issue its final ruling on the Trump campaign’s lawsuit at any time.