In the interest of time and with deadlines looming, attorneys for President Donald Trump’s campaign sought to bypass the lower courts and have their challenge to the results of the 2020 election in Wisconsin heard immediately by that state’s highest court.
But according to The Hill, a majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court said no to the campaign’s request, insisting that the lawsuit, which was filed against Democrat Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and select state election officials, make its way through the court system before being taken up by the justices.
Notably, the court’s majority took no stance on the claims put forward by the campaign regarding potential improprieties with roughly 200,000 ballots cast in Wisconsin’s Dane and Milwaukee Counties, both Democratic strongholds, or on the campaign’s request that the state decertify its results, which were reported as a win for Joe Biden after a recount.
Trump team: We’ll be back
According to The Hill, Trump campaign attorney Jim Troupis issued a statement following the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision.
“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,” he said.
“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” Troupis added. “We fully expect to be back in front of the Supreme Court very soon.”
Attorneys for Gov. Evers saw things differently, however. “President Trump’s Petition seeks nothing less than to overturn the will of nearly 3.3 million Wisconsin voters,” a brief from the Democrat’s legal team said, according to The Hill. “It is a shocking and outrageous assault on our democracy. The relief he seeks is wrong as a matter of law, incorrect as a matter of fact, and mistaken as a matter of procedure.”
Writing for the majority Wednesday, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn indicated that he understood the campaign’s frustrations. “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,” he wrote.
Still, Hagedorn asserted that following the law means “these actions should be filed in the circuit court” and argued that the Supreme Court isn’t particularly well situated to be a “fact-finding” body like the lower circuit courts are. “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,” he said.
It was an opinion that didn’t sit well with three dissenting justices, who excoriated their colleagues in a pair of fiery opinions. Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, argued that the Supreme Court has both the jurisdiction and abilities to accept the case and repeatedly stressed that “time is of the essence.”
“I also am concerned that the public will misunderstand what our denial of the petition means. 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,” Roggensack wrote. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, sometimes, we deny petitions even when it appears that a law has been violated.”
In a separate dissent, Justice Rebecca Bradley, joined by both Roggensack and Ziegler, shredded the Wisconsin Elections Commission for making up new rules instead of following statutory law and cited numerous precedents that undermined the majority’s argument. “It is not ‘impulse’ but our solemn judicial duty to say what the law is that compels the exercise of our original jurisdiction in this case,” she concluded. “I dissent.”