The Wisconsin Supreme Court Thursday bucked President Trump’s challenge to the state’s presidential election results, saying his lawyers must file in lower court before taking the charges of election fraud and irregularities to the state’s highest court.
Under state statute, the court noted the lawsuit should be filed at a circuit court level before the justices would decide to take the case.
The lawsuit challenged four sets of absentee ballots.
One classification was the absentee ballots lacking proper applications, while another group was mail-in votes that had missing information from envelopes.
The campaign is also challenging absentee ballots that were cast by people considered “indefinitely confined,” arguing many voters did not qualify for that classification, as well as absentee ballots cast at Democracy in the Park events that the campaign said were held unlawfully.
The state Supreme Court, composed of seven justices, has a conservative bent. Mr. Trump’s campaign had hoped the court would take up the challenge quickly, as the Electoral College is set to convene on Dec. 14.
Three of the court’s justices dissented, saying they thought the case should be taken up immediately.
“I also am concerned that the public will misunderstand what our denial of the petition means,” wrote Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack. “Occasionally, members of the public seem to believe that a denial of our acceptance of a case signals that the petition’s allegations are either false or not serious. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, sometimes, we deny petitions even when it appears that a law has been violated.”
Justice Brian Hagedorn, considered as a swing vote on the panel, agreed with the three liberal justices to send the case back to the lower court for more fact-finding on the allegations before weighing the matter.
“The parties clearly disagree on some basic factual issues, supported at times by competing affidavits,” he wrote. “I do not know how we could address all the legal issues raised in the petition without sorting through these matters, a task we are neither well-positioned nor institutionally designed to do. The statutory process assigns this responsibility to the circuit court.”
The Trump campaign said they welcome the direction of the state’s highest court to first file challenges in the lower courts, adding that they’ll show “clear evidence of unlawfulness” surrounding 221,000 mail-in votes.
“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” said Jim Troupis, a lawyer in Wisconsin for the Trump campaign. “We fully expect to be back in front of the Supreme Court very soon.”
• Alex Swoyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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