MADISON – A federal judge on Monday rejected the underpinning of a lawsuit seeking to undo election results brought by two Wisconsin Republicans and others, writing that it was riddled with errors, unserious and brought in bad faith.
The lawsuit by state Reps. David Steffen of Howard and Jeffrey Mursau of Crivitz, among others, is rife with so many problems that their lawyers may need to be sanctioned professionally, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of Washington, D.C., wrote.
He noted the attorneys had not served the lawsuit on its numerous defendants, even after Boasberg reminded them they needed to do that.
“Courts are not instruments through which parties engage in such gamesmanship or symbolic political gestures,” he wrote. “As a result, at the conclusion of this litigation, the Court will determine whether to issue an order to show cause why this matter should not be referred to its Committee on Grievances for potential discipline of Plaintiffs’ counsel.”
His ruling denied a preliminary injunction that sought to undo the certifications of elections in Wisconsin and other battleground states that went to Democrat Joe Biden over President Donald Trump.
The errors in the lawsuit are numerous, according to Boasberg, who was nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama.
“In addition to being filed on behalf of Plaintiffs without standing and (at least as to the state Defendants) in the wrong court and with no effort to even serve their adversaries, the suit rests on a fundamental and obvious misreading of the Constitution,” he wrote. “It would be risible were its target not so grave: the undermining of a democratic election for President of the United States.”
He determined the legislators and other plaintiffs had gone to the wrong court by coming to one in Washington, D.C.
“Plaintiffs cannot simply sue anyone they wish here in the District of Columbia. On the contrary, they must find a court or courts that have personal jurisdiction over each Defendant, and they never explain how a court in this city can subject to its jurisdiction, say, the Majority Leader of the Wisconsin State Senate,” he wrote.
The judge did not mention in the lawsuit that among the mistakes Steffen, Mursau and the others made was that they named the wrong person as the majority leader of the Wisconsin Senate.
Boasberg wrote that those bringing the lawsuit should have filed it well before the election if they wanted to argue that decades-old election laws are unconstitutional.
“It is not a stretch to find a serious lack of good faith here,” he wrote.
Steffen and Mursau brought their lawsuit two weeks ago along with lawmakers from other states, the Wisconsin Voters Alliance and conservative groups from other states. The Wisconsin Voters Alliance has been unsuccessful with at least two other lawsuits over the state’s election results.
They brought their lawsuit against a laundry list of officials and institutions, including Congress and the Electoral College, which is a process, not an entity that can sued. They also brought their suit against Vice President Mike Pence and a number of Wisconsin officials, including Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester and state Sen. Howard Marklein of Spring Green (incorrectly claiming he was the majority leader of the state Senate).
The lawsuit seeks to overturn the results in Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania by allowing state legislators to decide how to cast those states’ electoral votes. Boasberg’s ruling Monday made clear they would not be able to persuade the judge to do that.
Steffen and Mursau did not immediately react to the ruling or say whether they would appeal.
The ruling came just before Steffen, Mursau and other Wisconsin lawmakers were to be inaugurated for a new term. Steffen and Mursau won new terms in the same election that Biden won, but they have not publicly questioned their own results.
Contact Patrick Marley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.