A US judge has rejected a lawsuit from a Republican congressman that sought to allow vice president Mike Pence to reject electoral college votes for Joe Biden when Congress meets on Wednesday to certify his victory over president Donald Trump.
The latest long-shot attempt by Trump’s Republican allies to overturn the November election result was dismissed by one of Trump’s own appointees to the federal bench, Jeremy Kernodle.
He ruled that representative Louie Gohmert of Texas and a slate of Republican electors from Arizona could not show they suffered any personal harm “fairly traceable” to Pence’s allegedly unlawful conduct and, therefore, lacked legal standing to bring the case.
The standing requirement “helps enforce the limited role of federal courts in our constitutional system. The problem for plaintiffs here is that they lack standing,” Kernodle wrote.
A spokesman for Trump referred questions to Pence’s office. A spokesman for Pence declined to comment.
Gohmert and his fellow plaintiffs said they would appeal. In an interview with the broadcaster Newsmax, the congressman said the ruling was “an example of when the institutions that our constitution created to resolve disputes so that you didn’t have to have riots and violence in the streets, it’s when they go wrong.”
“All this stuff about it [election fraud] being debunked, unsubstantiated, those are absolute lies,” he added.
“Basically in effect the ruling would be that you got to go to the streets and be as violent as antifa and BLM [Black Lives Matter],” he continued.
Trump has refused to concede defeat and has repeatedly falsely claimed the election was tainted by widespread fraud. He and his allies have lost dozens of court efforts seeking to reverse the election results.
Biden beat Trump by a 306-232 margin in the electoral college and is set to be sworn in on 20 January.
Under the electoral college system, electoral votes are allotted to states and the District of Columbia based on their congressional representation.
Some Republicans have said they plan to object to the count of presidential electors next week in Congress. The effort could trigger a lengthy debate in the Senate but has virtually no chance of overturning the results.
A justice department lawyer representing Pence on Thursday had urged Kernodle to dismiss the lawsuit, saying they had sued the wrong person because they raised “a host of weighty legal issues about the manner in which the electoral votes for president are to be counted”.
“The Senate and the House, not the vice president, have legal interests that are sufficiently adverse to plaintiffs to ground a case or controversy,” Pence’s filing said.