Federal appeals court issues stinging rejection of Trump campaign election fraud lawsuit

“Voters, not lawyers, choose the President,” the court writes.

November 27, 2020, 2:50 PM

The U.S. Third Circuit Court has rejected the Trump campaign’s appeal of a federal lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania that challenged the outcome of the 2020 elections, denying the request with a blistering opinion authored by a Trump-appointed judge declaring: "Voters, not lawyers, choose the President."

"Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy," said the unanimous opinion from a three-judge panel, which was signed by Judge Stephanos Bibas. "Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here."

"Voters, not lawyers, choose the President," the court writes. "Ballots, not briefs, decide elections."

PHOTO: President Donald Trump walks out to speak in the Brady Briefing Room in the White House, Nov. 24, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump walks out to speak in the Brady Briefing Room in the White House, Nov. 24, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
Susan Walsh/AP, FILE

Over 21 pages, the opinion picks apart the case filed by Trump campaign lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, in one instance saying point blank: "The Campaign’s claims have no merit."

The court found that the number of ballots the Trump campaign sought to challenge is far smaller than the roughly 81,000-vote margin of victory, and most of the claims revolve around questions of state law -- not federal law -- that have already been resolved in state court.

"And it never claims fraud or that any votes were cast by illegal voters," the court states. "Plus, tossing out millions of mail-in ballots would be drastic and unprecedented, disenfranchising a huge swath of the electorate and upsetting all down-ballot races too. That remedy would be grossly disproportionate to the procedural challenges raised."

Ellis tweeted a reaction to the ruling that she said was on behalf of herself and Giuliani, saying "the activist judicial machinery in Pennsylvania continues to cover up the allegations of massive fraud."

"On to SCOTUS!" she wrote, referencing her previously-stated desire to elevate the campaign’s case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The opinion came as an ally of the president, attorney Sidney Powell, filed a fresh legal complaint alleging a wide-ranging election fraud conspiracy -- also with scant proof -- in federal court in Georgia. Trump has continued to repeat those claims both on social media and in public remarks this week, including at a Republican caucus meeting organized by Pennsylvania state legislators on Wednesday.

The Third Circuit court, which hears appeals of federal cases from Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, issued a striking rebuke to the arguments that Giuliani, Ellis and Trump himself presented at that meeting -- including the notion that the Trump campaign poll watchers were denied the chance to closely observe the processing of mail-in ballots.

"No federal law requires poll watchers or specifies where they must live or how close they may stand when votes are counted. Nor does federal law govern whether to count ballots with minor state-law defects or let voters cure those defects," the ruling states. "Those are all issues of state law, not ones that we can hear. And earlier lawsuits have rejected those claims."

Biden campaign spokesman Michael Gwin called the continued legal effort to contest the campaign "desperate and embarrassingly meritless."

"Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and their debunked allegations of voter fraud have been rejected out of hand by yet another court, this time with one of Trump's own judicial appointees refuting the President's claims and finding that they have 'no merit' and no evidence," Gwin said. "This election is over and Donald Trump lost, both in Pennsylvania and nationally."

In the opinion, the federal appeals court makes plain the finding that the president’s repeated claims of fraud are not supported by evidence.

"The Campaign claims discrimination. But its alchemy cannot transmute lead into gold," the opinion concludes. "Calling something discrimination does not make it so."

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