MADISON — A federal court has tossed out a lawsuit that sought to keep U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh), Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-7th CD), and Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-5th CD) of November’s ballot.
In dismissing the lawsuit, liberal Judge Lynn Adelman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, scolded the group of left-wingers for bringing the “procedurally improper” litigation.
The case was definitely politically driven, and underwritten by a leftist Wisconsin brewery owner with a visceral hatred for Tiffany and Johnson.
In March, 10 Wisconsin residents, many of them liberal and Democratic Party activists, filed the federal lawsuit asking the court to disqualify them from holding office. The plaintiffs pushed the Democratic Party’s “insurrection” narrative, claiming the lawmakers they were suing have spread “malicious falsehoods” that helped to fuel the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol because they dared to question the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Johnson, Tiffany, Fitzgerald, President Trump, and many others identified in this Complaint or still unknown to the public and the Plaintiffs were also engaged in a conspiracy whose illegal objective was to hijack the Joint Session on January 6, 2021 in order to permit the presentation of knowingly false and fraudulent slates of electors to the President of the Senate (Vice President Pence), the Senate, and the House of Representatives,” the court-rejected lawsuit states.
Some Republicans did object to electoral votes cast for Biden in some closely contested battleground states. Johnson ultimately opted against objecting amid the riots at the Capitol. Tiffany and Fitzgerald did object to counting Biden’s presidential electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit hinges on a curious interpretation of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a post-Civil War provision that bars those who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding federal office. They insist the section should apply to the senator and House representatives.
National constitutional law expert Hans von Spakovsky last month told Empower Wisconsin the lawsuit was worse than frivolous.
Beyond the absurdity of claiming the lawmakers’ speech incited an insurrection, the liberals stake their case on a provision in the 14th Amendment that hasn’t existed since 1872 and 1898. That’s when congress passed amnesty acts ending the Reconstruction Era disqualification language.
“Those amnesty acts clearly state this provision is out of the 14th Amendment,” said von Spakovsky, manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation.
More dangerously, the complaint almost entirely targets protected speech involving the 2020 election and its aftermath by Johnson, Tiffany, and Fitzgerald, including social media posts and interviews, according to the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL). The Milwaukee-based civil rights law firm filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing the lawmakers’ speech is clearly protected under the First Amendment.
In dismissing the lawsuit, Adelman wrote there is no controversy that applies to the Declaratory Judgment Act. A voter in an election does not have a “direct legal relationship with a candidate for office” that may be settled through the act.
In short, the 10 Wisconsin voters filing the lawsuit have no standing. If they have a problem with the incumbents, they can take their complaints to the ballot box.
“A voter may oppose candidates in the political arena and choose not to vote for them,” the judge wrote. “If a voter believes that a candidate is ineligible for office, he or she may seek legal redress from election administrators.”
But a voter “may not seek legal relief relating to the candidate’s eligibility for office against the candidate directly. The voter may not, for example, seek an injunction to prevent the candidate from continuing his candidacy.”
Federal courts in North Carolina and Arizona have tossed out similar politically-motivated lawsuits from liberals driving the “insurrection” narrative.
“The dismissal of this frivolous, dark-money lawsuit is a victory for democracy and the rule of law. It is also a rejection of the Far Left’s desperate ploy to divert attention away from their own record of total failure,” Tiffany said in a statement. “Wisconsin families are tired of soaring gas and grocery prices, surging crime and the ‘woke’ agenda. They want safer communities, economic opportunity, affordable energy and secure borders — and I’m committed to fighting for those families every single day.”
The lawsuit is being funded by a liberal super PAC run by Kirk Bangstad, the douchey former Democratic candidate for state Assembly and brewer of beer baring the names of prominent liberals.
Von Spakovsky said the court should also impose sanctions against the lawyers who filed the lawsuit.
It doesn’t appear liberal Judge Adelman is willing to go that far. He does call B.S. on the plaintiffs’ phony claims that they are somehow injured by the lawmakers’ appearance on the ballot.
“In short, the plaintiffs have not demonstrated that the challenged conduct of the defendants—running for reelection—has caused them to suffer an invasion of a legally protected interest that is concrete and particularized,” the judge wrote.