A federal judge on Monday quickly dismissed a lawsuit filed by conservative attorney Sidney Powell that sought to overturn President Donald Trump's election loss to Joe Biden in Georgia.
The dismissal, and a rejection earlier Monday in a similar case by Powell in Michigan, are serious blows to Trump's long-shot effort to deny Biden a victory next week in the Electoral College.
The ruling in Georgia by Judge Timothy Batten Sr. came less than 90 minutes into a hearing in Atlanta federal court, where Powell had claimed that Trump was the victim of massive ballot fraud related to Georgia's use of Dominion voting machines.
"The relief that the plaintiffs seek this court cannot grant," Batten said.
"They ask the court to order the secretary of state to decertify the election results as if such a mechanism even exists, and I find that it does not."
Batten did not rule on the merits of Powell's claim, which were made on behalf of a slate of would-be Trump electors in the Electoral College.
Instead, the judge granted motions to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the suit did not belong in federal court.
Batten repeatedly suggested that Powell could have filed her lawsuit in state court, and he cited an federal appeals court ruling that "federal courts don't entertain post-election conduct, excuse me, contests about vote-counting misconduct."
Batten also said he found that the plaintiffs in the case did not have legal standing to bring the lawsuit.
"In their complaint, the plaintiffs essentially ask the court for perhaps the most extraordinary relief ever sought in any federal court in connection with an election," the judge said.
"They want this court to substitute its judgment for that of 2.5 million Georgia voters who voted for Joe Biden, and this I am unwilling to do."
Batten had opened the hearing by noting a highly unusual aspect of Powell's lawsuit: It alleged that a state run by a Republican governor and an election overseen by a Republican secretary of state — both of whom are Trump supporters — had effectively allowed systemic voting fraud to benefit the president's Democratic opponent, Biden.
In the Michigan case, federal Judge Linda Parker rejected Powell's request for an injunction against the vote tally showing a Biden victory in that state, saying that the lawyer's allegations of fraud were based on "nothing but speculation and conjecture."
Biden is projected to win 306 Electoral College votes on Dec. 14, 36 more than he needs to win the presidential contest. Michigan and Georgia each have 16 votes in the Electoral College.
Trump has refused to concede that he lost the 2020 election. But lawsuits by his campaign and his allies have repeatedly failed to invalidate any votes for Biden.