Federal appeals court rejects Trump appeal over Pennsylvania race

Presidential Transition

PHILADELPHIA (NewsNation Now) — A federal appeals court in Philadelphia on Friday rejected President Donald Trump’s latest effort to challenge the election results in a case that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court if Trump appeals.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals echoed a string of other courts in finding the Trump campaign offered no evidence of any election fraud. Instead, the court said “the campaign’s claims have no merit.”

“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. 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,” Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee and former law school professor, wrote for the three-judge panel.

The case had been argued last week in a lower court by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who insisted during five hours of oral arguments that the 2020 presidential election had been marred by widespread fraud in Pennsylvania. However, Giuliani failed to offer any tangible proof of that in court.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann had said the campaign’s error-filled complaint, “like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together” and denied Giuliani the right to amend it for a second time.

The 3rd Circuit called that decision justified. The three judges on the panel were all appointed by Republican presidents, including Bibas, a former University of Pennsylvania law professor appointed by Trump. Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, sat on the court for 20 years, retiring in 2019.

Trump’s lawyers vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Friday’s ruling comes four days after Pennsylvania officials certified their vote count for President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated Trump by more than 80,000 votes in the state.

Trump has said he hopes the Supreme Court will intervene in the race as it did in 2000, when its decision to stop the recount in Florida gave the election to Republican George W. Bush. On Nov. 5, as the vote count continued, Trump posted a tweet saying the “U.S. Supreme Court should decide!”

The Trump campaign has attacked the election as flawed and filed a flurry of lawsuits to try to block the results in six battleground states. But they’ve found little sympathy from judges, nearly all of whom dismissed their complaints about the security of mail-in ballots, which millions of people used to vote from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A separate Republican challenge that reached the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week seeks to stop the state from further certifying any races on the ballot. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is fighting that effort, saying it would prevent the state’s legislature and congressional delegation from being seated in the coming weeks.

All 50 states must certify their results before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14, and any challenge to the results must be resolved by Dec. 8. Biden won both the Electoral College and popular vote by wide margins.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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