Today, Monday, December 14, 2020, the Electoral College will elect Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. the 46th President of the United States.
The electors will meet in the capital cities of each of the 50 states. The newly elected congress will certify the electoral college vote in January, as provided in Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 3 of the U.S Constitution.
That’s pretty much the end of the overly long-running story about the 2020 presidential election:
Biden won. Trump lost.
Biden was not my choice. I voted for Trump. But Biden won.
Court challenges to elections fail
Trump’s self-proclaimed “lawyer” Rudolph Guiliani led the effort to file many lawsuits in numerous local, state and federal courts alleging that Trump was cheated out of re-election because of claimed violations of law.
There are, of course, irregularities in every election. Were there more than normal in 2020, as compared to earlier presidential elections? I have not seen the evidence. I do not know.
Although approximately 40 lawsuits seeking to challenge the results of the election have been filed, Guiliani and his team failed in every instance to win any relief for their client, President Trump.
Two of the suits drew the most attention: One was filed in November in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The other suit was filed directly with the U.S. Supreme Court by the attorney-general of Texas.
I found myself particularly interested in the Pennsylvania case, because there was extensive oral argument that is available to anyone who wants to listen to it online.
Conservative Republican judge hears Pennsylvania lawsuit
The federal judge in the Pennsylvania case was Mathew Brann. It would have been hard to find a judge anywhere in America who might have been considered more likely to give a sympathetic hearing to Trump’s lawyers. Judge Brann graduated from Notre Dame University and from the law school at Pennsylvania State University. Brann is a conservative Republican, a member of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative and libertarian lawyers, who advocate for the “originalist” interpretation of the 1787 U. S. Constitution.
The plaintiff in the Pennsylvania lawsuit was styled “Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.” and the defendants were Kathy Boockvar, the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and others.
Several attorneys were pursuing the Pennsylvania lawsuit, representing Trump, before Rudolph Guiliani became directly involved. On Sunday, Nov. 15, lawyers for the President dropped several elements of their original complaint, leaving only a complaint that two Pennsylvania voters had been denied “equal protection” as provided in Section I of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Judged Brann opened the Nov. 17 hearing by recognizing all the lawyers for both sides, including Guiliani, whom he respectfully addressed as “Mayor.”
Brann explained that the only complaint before the court was the one regarding equal protection.
Guiliani argues charges Trump’s team had already dropped
Judge Brann was clearly very familiar with all aspects of the case, had read all the many pages of documents on the docket, had thoroughly done his homework.
It should be noted, in fairness to Rudolph Guiliani, that he had not argued a case in court for 30 years and had formally entered the case only few days before the Tuesday, November 17, oral arguments.
Judge Brann, age 55, was very keen witted, had a ready sense of humor. He was courteous and deferential to Guiliani, who is 76 years old.
However, it was clear throughout the hearing the Guiliani was confused about what case he was arguing. The case had originally charged election fraud, but those charges had been dropped when Trump’s lawyers amended the lawsuit on November 15.
Yet, Guiliani spent most of his time arguing election fraud. For the entire four hours of the Nov. 17 hearing, Brann very patiently tried to keep Guiliani on track and focused on the fact that the only remaining complaint in the case was the alleged denial of equal protection.
Brann kept trying to get Guiliani to argue the equal protection case, but Guiliani continued to drone on – and on – about election fraud, which had already been dropped from the case.
Guiliani’s charming, but befuddled, performance before the federal judge was as embarrassing as the famous photo of his hair dye running down both sides of his face in a news conference a few days earlier.
Judge Brann was amazingly patient and kind to Guiliani, while trying to help the former mayor muddle through a four-hour hearing that did absolutely nothing to advance President Trump’s cause.
Trump team ignores judge’s suggestion to oppose dismissal
At the end of the November 17 hearing, Judge Brann tried again, pointing out that lawyers for President Trump had not filed a brief objecting to the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
“I think the plaintiffs should be given the opportunity to file an opposition brief to the motion to dismiss,” said Brann. “That hasn’t happened. I’m suggesting by 5 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, November 18th.”
Guiliani’s response to the judge’s offer makes it clear he does not understand what the court is offering to do for the plaintiffs. A female attorney (perhaps Linda Kerns) is then heard telling Judge Brann she understands what he is recommending and thanks the court for the suggestion.
Pennsylvania suit dismissed
On November 21st, Judge Brann issued what has been called his “scathing” order throwing out the case Guiliani had fumbled through in oral argument. Dismissing the Trump lawsuit, Judge Brann said the case presented by Guiliani and others“…like Frankenstein’s Monster, has haphazardly been stitched together…”
“I’ve never seen worse lawyering in an election law case in my life,” said Richard Hasen, a law professor at University of California, Irvine School of Law.
One wonders if Trump will actually pay any legal fees to Guiliani, or has Guiliani been serving as “Trump’s lawyer” just for the fame and fun of it all. He lost every case.
Texas seeks invalidation of four states’ electoral votes
Then came the strangest-of-all lawsuit in which Texas Attorney-General Ken Paxton tried to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court to sue the states of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Paxton’s suit would have asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the 62 electoral votes Biden won in those four states. It is interesting that Paxton’s attempted lawsuit was joined at the last minute by a number of Republican state attorneys-general, including Mississippi’s AG Lynn Fitch. Also signed on to the lawsuit were120 odd members of Congress, including all three U.S. Congressmen from Mississippi. Apparently these folks thought they had something to gain by jumping on the sinking Trump ship. Doubtful, but we shall see.
The heavily Republican U.S. Supreme Court swatted Paxton’s lawsuit away Friday evening, December 11th, as if it were an insignificant, but bothersome, gnat.
The Court simply noted that Texas did not have the right to sue because it, “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”
The decision was unanimous, 9-0, including the three Republicans Trump had appointed to the court. Conservative Justices Thomas and Alito, both appointed by earlier Republican presidents, said they might have considered the case, but would not have been willing to rule for the Trump challenge to the election results.
Why Trump lost in 2020
If, as Trump claims, there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election, his lawyers were unable to make the case in 40 or more lawsuits.
However, President Trump cannot blame his many lawyers or the many judges who refused to overturn the election results.
During October, I made the following statement to a number of friends: “There is only one candidate who can defeat Donald Trump in this year’s presidential election. That candidate is Donald Trump.”
Trump got it done. He beat himself.
While Trump had a successful presidency in many respects, his mishandling of the pandemic and his rude and ego-maniacal behavior, was eventually just too much for many of the people who voted for him in 2016.
If Trump had been capable of gracious behavior during the 60 days prior to November 3, he would have been re-elected. He just didn’t have it in him.
He beat himself, and he and the rest of us will just have to live with it.
Joe Biden is the President-Elect. Although I did not vote for him, I will respect President Biden and support him when I can.
I recall something President Lyndon Johnson said more than 50 years ago: “I’m the only president you’ve got.”
-Jerry W. Shiverdecker
Full audio recording of Pennsylvania lawsuit in court: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/11/trump-rudy-giuliani-pennsylvania-lawsuits-not-coherent.htmlelectoral college, political lawsuits, politics, President Donald Trump, President-elect Joe Biden