MADISON – Two Wisconsin legislators and several groups Thursday abandoned a lawsuit seeking to overturn the presidential election, causing a judge to renew his questions about whether their attorney should be sanctioned for filing a meritless claim.
Republican state Reps. David Steffen of Howard and Jeffrey Mursau of Crivitz, along with more than a dozen other individuals and entities, asked U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., to dismiss their two-week-old lawsuit.
He promptly agreed to throw it out but told them they needed to file a brief by Jan. 22 explaining why he should not pursue disciplinary proceedings against their attorney, Erick Kaardal of Minneapolis. Boasberg first raised that prospect on Monday.
Steffen, Mursau and the others sought to drop the lawsuit a day after Congress affirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and three days after Boasberg rejected the state lawmakers’ request for a preliminary injunction to overturn the election results.
In his earlier decision, Boasberg wrote that Steffen, Mursau and the others had presented a lawsuit that was brought in bad faith, was based on an “obvious misreading of the Constitution” and would be laughable if it weren’t attempting to undermine democracy.
“Courts are not instruments through which parties engage in such gamesmanship or symbolic political gestures,” wrote Boasberg, who was nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama.
Among the others bringing the lawsuit was the Wisconsin Voters Alliance, a new group aligned with President Donald Trump that has had two other lawsuits shot down by the courts.
Steffen and Mursau have not answered questions about why they brought the lawsuit or what they thought of the judge’s stinging ruling this week.
Kaardal did not immediately respond to an email late Thursday.
The lawsuit was riddled with errors. Steffen, Mursau and the others misidentified the majority leader of the Wisconsin Senate in their lawsuit and attempted to sue the Electoral College, which is a process, not a legal entity that can be sued.
By bringing their lawsuit, Steffen and Mursau challenged an election that saw them win new terms. While they challenged Biden’s victory, they have not publicly questioned the results in their own races.
Contact Patrick Marley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.