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Judge throws out Donald Trump’s bid to stop Pennsylvania vote certification

UPDATED: Sat., Nov. 21, 2020

By Mark Scolforo Associated Press

Pennsylvania officials can certify election results that currently show Democrat Joe Biden winning the state by more than 80,000 votes, a federal judge ruled Saturday, dealing President Donald Trump’s campaign another blow in its effort to invalidate the election.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, turned down the request for an injunction by Trump’s campaign. In his ruling, Brann said the Trump campaign presented “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations … 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,” the opinion said. “Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.”

Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis pointed to the decision as a positive development in their effort to push the case relatively quickly to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a joint statement, they said they would seek an expedited appeal to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and New York mayor, had returned to court for the first time in decades to represent the Trump campaign Tuesday. He showed his rustiness by tripping himself up over the meaning of “opacity,” mistaking the judge for a federal judge in a separate district and provoking an opposing lawyer.

Giuliani repeatedly contended in court that it was illegal for counties to help people vote. Opposing lawyer Mark Aronchick suggested Giuliani must not know the Pennsylvania election code.

Trump had argued that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law was violated when Pennsylvania counties took different approaches to notifying voters before the election about technical problems with their submitted mail-in ballots.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the seven Biden-majority counties that the campaign sued had argued Trump had previously raised similar claims and lost.

They told Brann the remedy the Trump campaign sought, to throw out millions of votes over alleged isolated issues, was far too extreme, particularly after most of them have been tallied.

“There is no justification on any level for the radical disenfranchisement they seek,” Boockvar’s lawyers wrote in a brief filed Thursday.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, tweeted shortly after Brann’s ruling, saying that “another one bites the dust.”

“These claims were meritless from the start and for an audience of one,” Shapiro said in a statement. “The will of the people will prevail. These baseless lawsuits need to end.”

The state’s 20 electoral votes would not have been enough on their own to hand Trump a second term. Counties must certify their results to Boockvar by Monday, after which she will make her own certification.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will notify the winning candidate’s electors they should appear to vote in the Capitol on Dec. 14.

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