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Wisconsin Spotlight | Dec. 4, 2020

MADISON — The Trump campaign remained upbeat Thursday after the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to hear its lawsuit seeking to toss out tens of thousands of suspect ballots cast in liberal Dane and Milwaukee counties. 

Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn sided with the court’s three liberals in the 4-3 ruling, seemingly settling into his role as the court’s swing vote. 

In his concurring opinion, Hagedorn wrote that he understands “the impulse” to immediately take up the legal questions “to ensure the recently completed election was conducted in accordance with the law.” But such legal challenges also are bound by law. 

Because of the sheer number of allegations of election law violations, factual disputes and contradictory affidavits, Hagedorn asserts the circuit courts are the proper venues to sort out the claims.  

While some say Hagedorn is punting, the justice contends the majority opinion is in tune with the law. 

“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even—and maybe especially—in high-profile cases. Following the law governing challenges to election results is no threat to the rule of law,” the justice wrote. 

The Trump campaign kept a brave face, asserting that it looks forward to taking its many allegations of election violations by liberal Dane and Milwaukee County elections officials to the liberal courts in those counties. They expect to be back in front of the Supreme Court “very soon.”  

“We welcome the direction of the Supreme Court to file in Dane and Milwaukee Counties as we pursue making certain that only legal votes count in Wisconsin — and we will immediately do so,” said Jim Troupis, Wisconsin counsel for the campaign, in a press release. “It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step.”

The campaign followed through on its promise, filing its notice of appeal in Dane and Milwaukee counties. 

In her dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack wrote that the Wisconsin Supreme Court clearly has jurisdiction over such a critical matter as charges of fraud in a presidential election. 

Roggensack wrote that in the majority opinion denying the petition, “four justices of this court are ignoring that there are significant time constraints that may preclude our deciding significant legal issues that cry out for resolution by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”

The Trump campaign on Tuesday filed its lawsuit with Wisconsin’s highest court, seeking to toss out what it claims are more than 220,000 invalid ballots cast in the Badger State’s two biggest — and most liberal — counties. 

The litigation follows a partial recount of the Wisconsin presidential election, which Democrat Joe Biden unofficially won by some 20,600 votes. It focused on Dane and Milwaukee counties, where there were multiple reports of irregularities and accusations of election fraud. 

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul celebrated the Supreme Court’s narrow ruling. 

“In America, not even the President is above the law,” the Democrat tweeted. “@realDonald Trump’s attempt to exempt himself from the process spelled out in WI law for challenging the outcome of an election — is a vindication of that abiding principle.”  

Trump’s campaign has taken a two-front strategy. On Wednesday, it filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging several liberal-led Wisconsin cities and the Wisconsin Elections Commission changed the rules of the game shortly before last month’s election to disadvantage the president. The commission and local elections officials disregarded state law in administering the presidential election, including permitting ballot tampering, the lawsuit states. 

The lawsuit alleges “the constitutional violations … likely tainted more than 50,000 ballots,” about 30,000 more than Biden unofficially won Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes by. 

“As I have said before, we will continue fighting on behalf of Wisconsinites and the American people to defend their right to a free and fair election,” Troupis said. “The only way to do that is by helping to restore integrity and transparency in our elections.”

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