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Federal judge scoffs at Republican election lawsuit

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Jan. 6, 2021

MADISON – A federal judge on Monday rejected the underpinning of a lawsuit seeking to undo election results brought by two Wisconsin Republicans and others, writing that it was riddled with errors, unserious and brought in bad faith. 

The lawsuit by state Reps. David Steffen of Howard and Jeffrey Mursau of Crivitz, among others, is rife with so many problems that their lawyers may need to be sanctioned professionally, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of Washington, D.C., wrote.

He noted the attorneys had not served the lawsuit on its numerous defendants, even after Boasberg reminded them they needed to do that. 

“Courts are not instruments through which parties engage in such gamesmanship or symbolic political gestures,” he wrote. “As a result, at the conclusion of this litigation, the Court will determine whether to issue an order to show cause why this matter should not be referred to its Committee on Grievances for potential discipline of Plaintiffs’ counsel.”

His ruling denied a preliminary injunction that sought to undo the certifications of elections in Wisconsin and other battleground states that went to Democrat Joe Biden over President Donald Trump.

The errors in the lawsuit are numerous, according to Boasberg, who was nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama.

“In addition to being filed on behalf of Plaintiffs without standing and (at least as to the state Defendants) in the wrong court and with no effort to even serve their adversaries, the suit rests on a fundamental and obvious misreading of the Constitution,” he wrote. “It would be risible were its target not so grave: the undermining of a democratic election for President of the United States.”

He determined the legislators and other plaintiffs had gone to the wrong court by coming to one in Washington, D.C.

“Plaintiffs cannot simply sue anyone they wish here in the District of Columbia. On the contrary, they must find a court or courts that have personal jurisdiction over each Defendant, and they never explain how a court in this city can subject to its jurisdiction, say, the Majority Leader of the Wisconsin State Senate,” he wrote.

Boasberg wrote that those bringing the lawsuit should have filed it well before the election if they wanted to argue that decades-old election laws are unconstitutional.

“It is not a stretch to find a serious lack of good faith here,” he wrote.

Steffen and Mursau brought their lawsuit two weeks ago along with lawmakers from other states, the Wisconsin Voters Alliance and conservative groups from other states. The Wisconsin Voters Alliance has been unsuccessful with at least two other lawsuits over the state’s election results.

The lawsuit seeks to overturn the results in Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania by allowing state legislators to decide how to cast those states’ electoral votes. Boasberg’s ruling Monday made clear they would not be able to persuade the judge to do that. 


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