Election Law

Federal judge will mull election suit sanctions, says courts aren't for 'symbolic political gestures'

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A federal judge in Washington, D.C., who found it difficult to think that an election lawsuit was “meant seriously,” will consider whether to refer the case to a court grievance committee.

In a decision Monday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia refused to block Congress from declaring President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

Boasberg said he will consider an order to show cause after the litigation concludes. Any referral would ask the grievance committee to consider sanctions against the plaintiffs’ counsel.

“It is not a stretch to find a serious lack of good faith here,” Boasberg wrote. “Courts are not instruments through which parties engage in such gamesmanship or symbolic political gestures.”

Boasberg ruled in a suit filed by Minneapolis lawyer Erick Kaardal of Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, report the Hill and Law360. Kaardal represented voter groups and individual voters from the states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Arizona.

The lawsuit asked Boasberg to declare unconstitutional federal statutes governing the appointment of electors and the counting of electoral votes for president and to strike down state statutes regulating the certification of presidential votes. The suit’s request to enjoin Congress from counting the electoral votes and declaring Biden the winner was the “coup de grace,” Boasberg said.

“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,” Boasberg wrote. “It would be risible were its target not so grave: the undermining of a democratic election for president of the United States.”

Boasberg said the plaintiffs’ votes had been counted, and their electors had been certified. And they did not suffer a concrete and particularized injury. Their argument that they are being deprived of a fair election is merely a generalized grievance that does not satisfy standing requirements, he said.

There was no proof that the defendants had been served, even though Boasberg had issued a reminder, he said.

Boasberg is an appointee of President Barack Obama. The suit is Wisconsin Voters Alliance v. Pence.

Kaardal did not immediately respond to an ABA Journal email seeking comment.

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