In a total loss the the Trump campaign, a federal district court in Pennsylvania has dismissed the most serious case brought by the campaign and denied the campaign a motion to file an amended complaint.
The judge just excoriates this suit, which those of us in the field have called ridiculous from the start:
In other words, Plaintiffs ask this Court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters. This Court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated. One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this Court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens.
That has not happened. Instead, this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more. At bottom, Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Therefore, I grant Defendants’ motions and dismiss Plaintiffs’ action with prejudice.
In a 37-page opinion, the court concluded:
Defendants’ motions to dismiss the First Amended Complaint are granted with prejudice. Leave to amend is denied. “Among the grounds that could justify a denial of leave to amend are undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, prejudice, and futility.” Given that: (1) Plaintiffs have already amended once as of right; (2) Plaintiffs seek to amend simply in order to effectively reinstate their initial complaint and claims; and (3) the deadline for counties in Pennsylvania to certify their election results to Secretary Boockvar is November 23, 2020, amendment would unduly delay resolution of the issues. This is especially true because the Court would need to implement a new briefing schedule, conduct a second oral argument, and then decide the issues.
The court had many problems with the complaint, but this goes to the heart of the merits: “Granting Plaintiffs’ requested relief would necessarily require invalidating the ballots of every person who voted in Pennsylvania. Because this Court has no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let alone millions of citizens, it cannot grant Plaintiffs’ requested relief.”
The court first held that both the individual plaintiffs and the Trump campaign lacked standing to raise the equal protection complaint in the lawsuit. Among other thing, the court remarked: “Neither of these orders would redress the injury the Individual Plaintiffs allege they have suffered. Prohibiting certification of the election results would not reinstate the Individual Plaintiffs’ right to vote. It would simply deny more than 6.8 million people their right to vote.“
Further on the merits of the equal protection claim, the court held: “Requiring that every single county administer elections in exactly the same way would impose untenable burdens on counties, whether because of population, resources, or a myriad of other reasonable considerations.” And: “Plaintiffs’ only remaining claim alleges a violation of equal protection. This claim, like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together from two distinct theories in an attempt to avoid controlling precedent.”
This is a total loss for the Trump campaign and a dead end. The campaign can try to appeal this to the Third Circuit and even to the Supreme Court, but this is such a dog of a case I cannot see any chance of success there, even before the most sympathetic judges.
Rudy had truly participated in the worst piece of election litigation I have ever seen, both in terms of the lawyering and the antidemocratic nature of what the lawsuit attempted to do.
[This post has been updated.]