Prior to Election Day, a series of rulings in federal courts now filled with Donald Trump’s judicial nominees aided Republican efforts to limit voting, underscoring how the makeup of the courts could help the president’s reelection chances. (Trump has appointed more judges to the federal appeals courts than any other president during the first three years in office.) The decisions also fueled concern that Trump’s reshaping of the federal judiciary could help him win post-election litigation aimed at challenging unfavorable results—strategy Trump was previewing back in September. Now, nearly a month into his futile effort to overturn Joe Biden’s victory, the president has suffered multiple courtroom defeats, with some of the most blistering decisions coming from conservative judges and, in some cases, his own appointees.
In a federal appeals court in Georgia on Friday, a unanimous three-judge panel—including a Trump appointee—tossed out an appeal “seeking to expand a restraining order a district court judge issued Sunday barring any alterations to voting machines in three Georgia counties,” according to Politico. The request, filed by controversial lawyers Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, was rejected before even the litigants’ oral arguments were heard. In November, a different Trump appointee dismissed a lawsuit brought by Wood seeking to block certification of Biden’s victory in Georgia, Reuters reports. Another appeals court judge appointed by Trump ruled against his campaign’s legal effort in Pennsylvania last week, lambasting the lack of evidence to support baseless allegations of voter fraud. “Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy,” wrote Judge Stephanos Bibas. “Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”
Georgia was one of five battleground states serving up losses to the president’s toothless legal effort on Friday. In Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court declined to take up a lawsuit by Trump allies attempting to invalidate the entire election in the state without substantial evidence to support their voter fraud claims. “The relief being sought by the petitioners is the most dramatic invocation of judicial power I have ever seen,” conservative elected justice Brian Hagedorn said in a concurring opinion. “Judicial acquiescence to such entreaties built on so flimsy a foundation would do indelible damage to every future election. Once the door is opened to judicial invalidation of presidential election results, it will be awfully hard to close that door again. This is a dangerous path we are being asked to tread.” In Arizona, a county judge rejected a suit filed by the Republican Party challenging the state’s results, ruling: “The court finds no misconduct, no fraud and no effect on the outcome of the election.” A Nevada judge similarly rebuked the Trump campaign’s effort to overturn Biden’s win in the state’s election. “There is no credible or reliable evidence that the 2020 General Election in Nevada was affected by fraud,” Carson City District Judge James Russell wrote. Rulings in Michigan and Minnesota also rejected election-related disputes.
The barrage of legal losses comes as nearly 90 percent of all Republicans serving in Congress refuse to acknowledge Biden’s victory, a Washington Post survey revealed Saturday. According to the findings of a survey of all 249 GOP members of the House and Senate, only 25 congressional Republicans say Biden won the election; two Republicans said Trump won, and 222 others declined to say who won altogether, despite Biden’s “clear victory of more than 7 million votes nationally and a convincing electoral-vote margin that exactly matched Trump’s 2016 tally,” the Post notes. The three-question survey, which Post reporters began conducting Thursday morning, also asked Republicans whether they support or oppose Trump’s continuing efforts to claim victory, as well as whether they will accept Biden as the legitimately elected president if he wins a majority in the Electoral College.
Most Republican lawmakers—more than 70 percent—had not acknowledged the questions as of Friday evening, with nine opposing Trump’s current strategy of claiming victory and eight supporting it. Thirty GOP members of Congress said they would accept Biden as the legitimately elected president if he wins the majority; two said they would not, even as enough states have certified the results to make Biden the winner. The responses emphasize how most GOP lawmakers have tried to avoid commenting on the president’s actions throughout his tenure, going so far as to claim they had not read his more inflammatory tweets.
— Ivanka and Jared’s Post–White House Future Is an Island Alone— Inside Don Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle’s Supposed RNC-Takeover Plot— Why Mike Pompeo’s Postelection Trump Worship Carries Real Risks— Ivanka Trump Was My Best Friend. Now She’s MAGA Royalty— As Trump Clings to Power, His Allies Quietly Admit Defeat— Elon Musk’s Totally Awful, Completely Bonkers, Most Excellent Year— After Biden’s Victory, Can the Media Tune Out Trump’s 2020 Delusions?— From the Archive: Donald Trump Was the Best Cable-News President in History— Not a subscriber? Join Vanity Fair to receive full access to VF.com and the complete online archive now.