On Saturday, U.S. District Court judge Matthew Brann dismissed the Trump campaign lawsuit to halt the confirmation of the Pennsylvania vote. The court acknowledged that the negation of votes may have been due to different “healing rules”, but contradicted the legal and rationale for blocking state voting certification to address such claims. In the damning order, the argument of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was described as a “Frankenstein monster” made up of different parts of different legal claims. In particular, the court found that the “Individual plaintiffs have given reasonable assurance that their votes have been rejected.” This island of support, however, is being lost in a vast ocean of contradicting and caustic findings from the court.
The court began its ruling with a haymaker:
“This court has not been able to find a case where a campaigning plaintiff sought such a drastic legal remedy over the sheer volume of votes that is about to be invalidated. One might expect a plaintiff to be tremendously armed with compelling legal arguments and factual evidence of widespread corruption in search of such a startling outcome, so this court would have no choice but to proceed with the proposed injunction despite the implications it would have , regrettably grant to such a large group of citizens. “
The court hit the Trump campaign on standing and counter precedent. It described the filing as “Frankenstein’s monster … arbitrarily pieced together from two different theories to avoid controlling precedents”.
The Trump campaign is likely to argue on appeal that the court, citing the lack of more systematic problems, denied the campaign access to information from the state and election officials.
As the court acknowledged, the Trump campaign expressly accepted that aspects of their reasoning on the position were excluded by an existing precedent, but wanted to keep the matter up for appeal. On other issues, however, the court repeatedly slammed the campaign “to try to combine claims to circumvent contrary precedents”. It was said that the efforts were “not lost in court”.
Much of the most biting language was directed against the ongoing claims of the campaign. While the court is beating the Trump campaign on its “competitive status” theory, it also notes:
“To be clear, this court does not believe that a political election campaign can never have the reputation of questioning the outcome of an election. Rather, it merely states that the Trump campaign did not put forward any discernible theory in this case. “
There are aspects of the opinion that could be challenged on appeal. The Court repeatedly comes back to the main difficulty of the campaign: the appeal. This is yet another “sticker shock” decision where a judge defies relief. The court emphasized the separation it found between a violation and the relief requested. It rejects the idea of protecting the votes of these individual votes by effectively disenfranchising millions of other voters by blocking certification. It is a “leveling down” approach that the court does not consider intuitive and unsupportable:
“When remedying a breach of the same protection, a court can either“ ascend ”or“ descend ”. 119 This means that a court can either extend a benefit to an advantage that has been wrongly denied it, thereby increasing that person and bringing that person on a par with others who already have the right, or a court can weaken itself by it takes power from those who currently own it. In general, the “preferred rule in a typical case is to prolong cheap treatment” and improve. In fact, a reduction is not permitted if the withdrawal of a benefit would necessarily violate the constitution. This would be the case if a court were to eliminate discrimination by canceling a constitutionally guaranteed benefit. “
Despite the strong language of opinion, it would be a mistake for Giuliani to continue attacking what he believes to be the bias of the “democratic judges”. I have previously criticized President Trump for such attacks (although Democrats regularly carry out the same attacks on Republican Supreme Court candidates). While appointed by President Barack Obama, Judge Brann is a distinguished lawyer who happens to be a Republican (and longtime member of the Federal Society). One cannot agree with the elements of this decision, but it is an overall view, especially the relief that many lawyers and attorneys would share. We need to move away from these personal attacks and focus on the law. Indeed, Giuliani’s attacks on the integrity of such judges undermine his own credibility and that of his client.
The decision will now allow Trump to appeal to the Third Circuit (and possibly the United States Supreme Court).
Here is the opinion: Trump v. Boockvar