Politics

Wisconsin Supreme Court won't hear Trump election lawsuit

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Key Points
  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court said it would not hear President Donald Trump's latest legal attempt to challenge his loss to Joe Biden in the presidential election.
  • The Trump campaign's lawsuit, which aimed to invalidate more than 221,000 ballots in the state's two most Democrat-heavy counties, must first work its way through lower courts, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said in an order.
  • Lawyers for Trump's campaign had argued that they didn't have time to proceed through normal legal channels.
US President Donald Trump listens during a Medal of Freedom ceremony for retired football Lou Holtz in the Oval Office of the White House December 3, 2020, in Washington, DC.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday said it would not hear President Donald Trump's latest legal attempt to challenge his loss to Joe Biden in the presidential election.

The Trump campaign's lawsuit, which aimed to invalidate more than 221,000 ballots in the state's two most Democrat-heavy counties, must first work its way through lower courts, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said in a 4-3 decision.

With the Electoral College set to cast their votes on Dec. 14 — thereby securing victory for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — lawyers for Trump's campaign had argued that they didn't have time to proceed through normal legal channels.

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"In this case, there is not enough time to follow the normal judicial procedure without this Court asserting its original jurisdiction authority immediately," the lawyers wrote in their petition, which was filed Tuesday.

Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote in an opinion concurring with the majority vote that "these actions should be filed in the circuit court."

"Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law," Hagedorn wrote.

The Trump campaign's case argued that ballots in Dane and Milwaukee counties had been improperly counted. But Hagedorn said that "even if this court has constitutional authority to hear the case straightaway, notwithstanding the statutory text, the briefing reveals important factual disputes that are best managed by a circuit court."

The court's chief justice, in a dissent, said she agreed with the idea of having the circuit court conduct fact-finding hearings in the lawsuit. But she added that she would prefer to have the lower court "report its factual findings to us, and we would decide the important legal questions presented."

In a statement, Trump campaign counsel Jim Troupis said, "We welcome the direction of the Supreme Court to file in Dane and Milwaukee Counties as we pursue making certain that only legal votes count in Wisconsin - and we will immediately do so."

"It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step," Troupis said in the statement, adding, "We fully expect to be back in front of the Supreme Court very soon."

Despite news outlets calling the race for Biden and Harris weeks earlier, and although numerous key swing states have already certified that the Democrats won their presidential races, Trump is refusing to concede.

He and his campaign are filing new lawsuits challenging various aspects of states' presidential races, as part of the broader goal of overturning Biden's nationwide victory. Many of those cases from the campaign's legal team, which is being led by Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have already been tossed out of court.

The most recent case, filed by Trump on Wednesday evening in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee, asks the court to rule that the Wisconsin state legislature's election authority had been undermined, then asks for the matter to be handed over to that legislature so it can decide how to remedy the situation, including through "any impact upon the allocation of Presidential electors for the State of Wisconsin."

In a 46-minute, falsehood-filled video posted to Facebook on Wednesday evening, Trump signaled that his end goal is for the legal efforts to reach the Supreme Court.

"This election was a total catastrophe," Trump said during the lengthy election rant. "But we're going to show it. And hopefully the courts, in particular the Supreme Court of the United States, will see it, and respectfully, hopefully they will do what's right for our country."

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