Federal appeals court denies Trump campaign effort to revive Pennsylvania lawsuit saying 'claims have no merit'

A federal appeals court on Friday denied the Trump campaign's effort to revive a federal lawsuit challenging the election results in Pennsylvania, ruling "the claims have no merit."

Posted: Nov 27, 2020 4:38 PM

(CNN) -- A federal appeals court on Friday denied the Trump campaign's effort to revive a federal lawsuit challenging the election results in Pennsylvania, ruling "the claims have no merit."

A panel of three judges for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request by the Trump campaign, led by Rudy Giuliani, to amend its lawsuit, which had been previously rejected.

"The Campaign never alleges that any ballot was fraudulent or cast by an illegal voter," wrote Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, for the panel. "It never alleges that any defendant treated the Trump campaign or its votes worse than it treated the Biden campaign or its votes. Calling something discrimination does not make it so. The Second Amended Complaint still suffers from these core defects, so granting leave to amend would have been futile."

"Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here," the judges added in their opinion.

The President and some of his allies have been questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 election, saying without evidence that it was fraudulent and seeking to use legal battles to overturn results in key states. Most recently, a handful of Pennsylvania Republicans, alongside Giuliani, held a "hearing" in Gettysburg on Wednesday over their baseless allegations of voter fraud.

The judges also rejected the President's motion to undo Pennsylvania's certification of votes. The Keystone state on Tuesday certified its general election results, formally awarding President-elect Joe Biden 20 electoral votes.

"The Campaign's claims have no merit. The number of ballots it specifically challenges is far smaller than the roughly 81,000-vote margin of victory. And it never claims fraud or that any votes were cast by illegal voters. Plus, tossing out millions of mail-in ballots would be drastic and unprecedented, disenfranchising a huge swath of the electorate and upsetting all down-ballot races too. That remedy would be grossly disproportionate to the procedural challenges raised," the judges wrote.

Biden campaign spokesperson Mike Gwin, following the federal appeals court decision, said that "this election is over and Donald Trump lost" and argued "meritless lawsuits" will not change the outcome.

"Desperate and embarrassingly meritless lawsuits like this one will continue to fail and will not change the fact that Joe Biden will be sworn in as President on January 20, 2021," added Gwin.

Jenna Ellis, an attorney for Trump's campaign, said on Twitter following the ruling that "the activist judicial machinery in Pennsylvania continues to cover up the allegations of massive fraud," and pledged to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The President's campaign had appealed a scathing ruling last weekend when Judge Matthew Brann threw out the lawsuit ruling it could not be amended and refiled.

Brann compared it to "Frankenstein's monster ... haphazardly stitched together," and slammed the request to disenfranchise nearly seven million voters in a complaint littered with "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations."

The appeals court referenced the Trump campaign's multiple attempts to alter its lawsuit and praised Brann's handling of the matter. State and local election officials have said there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and both a federal court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have dismissed lawsuits seeking to prevent the state from certifying the results of the election.

"We commend the District Court for its fast, fair, patient handling of this demanding litigation," the panel wrote.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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