Judge rules pro-Trump case established a ‘likelihood to succeed on the merits’ in Pennsylvania

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The Pennsylvania appellate court judge who issued a temporary injunction Wednesday against the state certifying its 2020 election results released an accompanying opinion Friday explaining her decision.

In the opinion, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough predicted that the plaintiffs in the case will ultimately win the battle they’re waging in the Keystone State.

Petitioners appear to have established a likelihood to succeed on the merits because petitioners have asserted the Constitution does not provide a mechanism for the legislature to allow for expansion of absentee voting without a constitutional amendment,” she wrote.

“Petitioners appear to have a viable claim that the mail-in ballot procedures set forth in Act 77 contravene [a provision in the state’s Constitution] as the plain language of that constitutional provision is at odds with the mail-in provisions of Act 77.”

Signed into law in October of 2019, Act 77 granted state residents the right to request an absentee ballot without providing a legitimate reason.

Prior to the law’s implementation, legitimate reasons — or “excuses,” as they were called — included being a college student, being someone who works or is vacationing somewhere else, being someone with a physical disability, being someone in the military, or being someone with a religious conflict (i.e., Election Day is the same as their religion’s holiday).

The plaintiffs argued that, by tossing out these excuses, the state had simply implemented universal mail-in voting by disguising it as no-excuse absentee voting and claimed the move lacked “constitutional authority.”

McCullough appeared to agree.

Since this presents an issue of law which has already been thoroughly briefed by the parties, this Court can state that Petitioners have a likelihood of success on the merits of its Pennsylvania Constitutional claim,” she added.

View her ruling below:

Memorandum Opinion Filed in… by Jim Hoft

That’s presumably good news for President Donald Trump, assuming the ruling sticks, though it should be noted this particular case wasn’t filed by his legal team.

This case was instead filed by Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly and seven other petitioners, including Sean Parnell, Thomas A. Frank, Nancy Kierzek, Derek Magee, Robin Sauter, Michael Kincaid and Wanda Logan.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and several of his top officials have reportedly appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to toss the case.

“Since the birth of our nation nearly 250 years ago, no court has ever issued an order purporting to interfere with a state’s ascertainment of its presidential electors — until today. There is no conceivable justification for the lower court’s issuance of such an order in this case,” they reportedly wrote in an appeal filed after McCullough’s Wednesday ruling.

It seems the opinion that McCullough released Friday may have been written in response to these allegations of there being “no conceivable justification” for her ruling.

“The order purports to interfere with the ongoing process of seating presidential electors and precludes certification of any other result from the 2020 general election. This extraordinary act of judicial overreach threatens to undermine the integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections and reduce public confidence in them,” the appeal continued.

In the federal case filed by the president’s legal team, the results have been vastly different, though that’s not a bad thing. The differing results strongly suggest the conservative-leaning Supreme Court will eventually have to settle the matter.

In its own ruling Friday, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused the campaign’s own demands that Pennsylvania’s certification process be halted.

“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,” a three-judge panel ruled.

“The case had been argued last week in a lower court by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who insisted during five hours of oral arguments that the 2020 presidential election had been marred by widespread fraud in Pennsylvania,” The Guardian notes.

“The US 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 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals apparently agreed, though again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Responding to this ruling, Trump’s 2020 campaign senior adviser Jenna Ellis tweeted, “On to SCOTUS!”

Look:

And that’s truly what it’s all about. In the grander scheme of things, neither the victory from McCullough nor the defeat from the 3rd Circuit mean anything — they’re just markers on a lengthy road that ultimately leads to the Supreme Court.

Like Giuliani and Ellis wrote in a joint statement following Brann’s ruling a week earlier, “Today’s decision turns out to help us in our strategy to get expeditiously to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although we fully disagree with this opinion, we’re thankful to the Obama-appointed judge for making this anticipated decision quickly, rather than simply trying to run out the clock.”

Vivek Saxena

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