A Trump-appointed judge eviscerated the president’s biggest election lawsuit in Pennsylvania, saying the campaign’s ‘claims have no merit’

rudy giuliani
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference about lawsuits contesting the results of the presidential election at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday Nov. 19, 2020.
  • A Pennsylvania appeals court rejected the Trump campaign's effort to block a lower court ruling that said the campaign cannot stop the state from certifying its election results.
  • Judge Stephanos Bibas, who wrote the ruling for the three-judge appeals court panel, is a Trump appointee and did not mince words when rejecting the campaign's appeal.
  • "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," Bibas wrote.
  • "The Campaign's claims have no merit," he added.
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A Pennsylvania appeals court on Friday decisively rejected the Trump campaign's request to block a lower court ruling that dismissed the campaign's effort to stop Pennsylvania from certifying its election results.

In a 3-0 decision, the panel upheld the lower court's ruling, dealing another blow to the Trump campaign's faltering attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which President-elect Joe Biden won this month.

Notably, the judge who wrote the appeals court's decision, Stephanos Bibas, was appointed by President Donald Trump. The other two judges were also conservative; both were appointed to the court by former President George W. Bush.

"Charges of unfairness are serious," Bibas wrote in Friday's ruling. "But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here."

"The Campaign's claims have no merit," he added.

The Trump campaign's Pennsylvania lawsuit is its biggest legal challenge related to the 2020 election. In the case, Trump's campaign sued seven Democratic counties over vague allegations of voter fraud and asked that a judge block the state from certifying its election results for Biden.

However, the two instances of voter fraud Trump's legal team singled out in the case did not take place in any of the counties it sued and instead occurred in Fayette and Luzerne counties, both of which overwhelmingly voted for Trump and were not named as defendants.

Trump's lead defense lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, also made unspecified and baseless claims about "widespread nationwide voter fraud" when arguing the case before the a Pennsylvania district court that were not supported by the campaign's lawsuit. As a result, US District Judge Matthew Brann dismissed the lawsuit.

The campaign subsequently appealed Brann's decision to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which on Monday tore apart the president's legal team's arguments.

Bibas singled out Giuliani in the Monday ruling, writing that despite the former New York mayor's claims of widespread voter fraud, the campaign's lawsuit does not make the same allegation.

"To start, note what it does not allege: fraud," Bibas wrote. "Indeed, in oral argument before the District  Court, Campaign lawyer Rudolph Giuliani conceded that the Campaign 'doesn't plead  fraud' ... He reiterated: 'If we had  alleged fraud, yes, but this is not a fraud case.'"

The judge also reaffirmed the district court's decision to reject the campaign's request to amend its lawsuit for a third time after the first and second iterations had "fatal" flaws.

Most of the claims in the second version of the complaint "boil down to issues of state law," Bibas wrote, but he noted that Pennsylvania "is willing to overlook many technical defects. It favors counting votes as long as there is no fraud. Indeed, the Campaign has already litigated and lost many of these issues in state courts."

"The Campaign tries to repackage these state-law claims as unconstitutional discrimination," he added. "Yet its allegations are vague and conclusory."

Bibas pointed out that the Trump campaign "never alleges that anyone treated" it or Trump votes "worse than it treated the Biden campaign or Biden votes."

Moreover, he wrote, the amended complaint "also says nothing about curing technical state-law errors in ballots. Each of these defects is fatal, and the proposed Second Amended Complaint does not fix them. So the District Court  properly denied leave to amend again."

Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, another lawyer on Trump's legal team, attacked "the activist judicial machinery in Pennsylvania" for trying to "cover up the allegations of massive fraud."

"We are very thankful to have had the opportunity to present proof and the facts to the PA state legislature," Giuliani and Ellis said in their statement. "On to SCOTUS!" they added, referring to the US Supreme Court.

 

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