Conservative Wisconsin Justices Blast Decision to Punt on Trump’s Election Lawsuit

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Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn voted with the court’s three liberal justices.

(The Center Square) – Three of the four conservative justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court say the decision to send President Trump’s first election lawsuit to a lower court is endangering future elections in the state.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday, 4-3, declined to hear the president’s lawsuit that challenges more than 200,000 votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties.

That essentially kills the president’s legal challenge to Milwaukee and Dane counties’ indefinitely confined ballots, and the 17,000 absentee votes collected at a Madison park before Election Day. Wisconsin’s presidential electors are scheduled to meet Dec 14 to select the state’s winner. Congress is scheduled to certify the Electoral College vote on Jan 6.

The decisions to punt on the case has the other conservative justices on the Supreme Court fuming.

Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote a blistering dissent that says the issue before the court is not whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden won the presidential election, but whether the election itself followed Wisconsin’s election laws.


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“While some will either celebrate or decry the court’s inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” Bradley wrote. “The majority takes a pass on resolving the important questions presented by the petitioners in this case, thereby undermining the public’s confidence in the integrity of Wisconsin’s electoral processes not only during this election, but in every future election.”

Bradley went on, saying the court is passing on an opportunity to make it clear that lawmakers, not unelected bureaucrats make the laws in Wisconsin.

“Alarmingly, the court’s inaction also signals to the WEC that it may continue to administer elections in whatever manner it chooses, knowing that the court has repeatedly declined to scrutinize its conduct,” Bradley said in her opinion. “Regardless of whether the WEC’s actions affect election outcomes, the integrity of every election will be tarnished by the public’s mistrust until the Wisconsin Supreme Court accepts its responsibility to declare what the election laws say.”


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Bradley closed her dissent with her strongest critique.

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court has an institutional responsibility to decide important questions of law — not for the benefit of particular litigants, but for citizens we were elected to serve. Justice for the people of Wisconsin means ensuring the integrity of Wisconsin’s elections. A majority of this court disregards its duty to the people of Wisconsin, denying them justice,” Bradley wrote. “The majority’s failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election. It will also profoundly and perhaps irreparably impact all local, statewide, and national elections going forward, with grave consequence to the State of Wisconsin and significant harm to the rule of law.”

Conservative swing-vote Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote the opinion to clarify his vote and the votes of the court’s three liberal justices.

“I understand the impulse to immediately address the legal questions presented by this petition to ensure the recently completed election was conducted in accordance with the law. But challenges to election results are also governed by law,” Hagedorn wrote.

He explained that he’s not sure the Supreme Court has the power, or the ability, to hear a case that has not been first tried in front of a judge or jury.

“The parties clearly disagree on some basic factual issues, supported at times by competing affidavits,” Hagedorn said. “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.”

Hagedorn and the liberals said the president’s legal team needs to first take the case to a lower court.

By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission

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