The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday denied President Trump’s attempt to strike down for the second time this month more than 200,000 votes in the state’s two largest Democratic strongholds.
The ruling ends the president’s efforts to overturn the election result just hours before the Electoral College casts the state’s 10 votes for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
In a 4-3 decision, the conservative-leaning court rejected the Trump campaign’s attempt to reject votes in Milwaukee County and Dane County, which includes Madison.
The campaign had asked the courts to reject votes cast by voters who declared themselves indefinitely confined, voters who delivered mail-in ballots at the October events hosted by the City of Madison Clerk, voters who voted in person on advance polling sites and postal ballots in which the voter’s witness did not provide a complete mailing address.
“We conclude that the Campaign is not entitled to the relief it seeks,” wrote Justice Brian Hagedorn, a Conservative who sided with the three Liberal judges on the court. He added that “the challenge to the indefinitely limited ballots is prima facie baseless, and the other three categories of contested ballots fail under coward doctrine” – meaning the campaign took too long to file a complaint. .
The State Supreme Court had already rejected on December 3 an attempt by the Trump campaign to file a complaint directly with it. So the Trump campaign again filed a lawsuit in the lower courts of Milwaukee and Madison, then when those courts ruled against it, appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard the case.
Monday’s decision stifles Mr. Trump’s faint legal hope of toppling Wisconsin from Mr. Biden, which won the state by 20,000 votes out of 3.2 million votes.
In their dissent, three of the court’s conservative justices argued that the Trump campaign found “troubling allegations of non-compliance with Wisconsin election laws” by city clerks and the state election commission.
“The inability of the majority to act leaves an indelible stain on our last election,” Judge Rebecca Bradley wrote in a dissent signed by two Conservative judges. “It will also have a profound and possibly irreparable impact on all upcoming local, state, and national elections, with grave consequences for the state of Wisconsin and significant damage to the rule of law.”
She added: “Failure by the majority to fulfill their duty perpetuates violations of the by those charged with administering it.”
The Trump lawsuit alleged no fraud in the Wisconsin election. Instead, he argued that Milwaukee County and Dane County municipal clerks should not have been allowed to complete address forms for witnesses to mail-in votes, which the Election Commission of the Wisconsin had given them permission to do so. State law requires absent voters to have their envelopes signed by witnesses.
The lawsuit was not seeking to invalidate ballots cast elsewhere in the state – where voters are much more likely to have supported Mr. Trump.
The lawsuit also asked the court to invalidate the ballots collected by Madison’s city clerk during October meetings in city parks, though these events were also blessed by the election commission.
He also sought to reject the ballots of voters who declared themselves indefinitely confined to their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.
And, in its boldest argument, the Trump campaign argued that all in-person mail-in votes were cast in violation of state law – a claim that would have rejected the vote of its own lawyer.