U.S. judge dismisses lawmaker lawsuit against Pence over electoral count

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence waves to supporters at the end of a rally in Kinston, North Carolina, U.S.

A federal judge on Friday 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 Jan. 6 to certify his victory over President Donald Trump.

The latest long-shot attempt by Trump’s Republican allies to overturn the Nov. 3 election was dismissed by one of Trump’s own appointees to the federal bench, Jeremy Kernodle. He ruled that U.S. 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.

A spokeswoman for Gohmert did not immediately comment.

Trump has refused to concede defeat to Democrat Biden 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 President Donald Trump by a 306-232 margin in the Electoral College and is set to be sworn in on Jan. 20.

Under the Electoral College system, “electoral votes” are allotted to states and the District of Columbia based on their congressional representation.

Gohmert’s suit argued that Pence had discretion to decide what votes should count. They also asked the judge to bar Pence from following the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which lays out how objections to votes are handled by Congress.

Some Republicans have said they plan to object to the count of presidential electors next week in Congress. Reuters reported this week 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 urged Kernodle to dismiss the lawsuit saying they had sued the wrong person as 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.

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