Federal judge tosses Trump lawsuit challenging Murphy VBM order

By David WildsteinOctober 22 2020

New Jersey Globe

President Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a "Keep America Great" rally at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. February 19, 2020.

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A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed by Donald Trump’s re-election campaign challenging the constitutionality of Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order to hold a general election almost entirely through vote-by-mail ballots.

“The court has carefully considered the parties submissions and deicides the matter without oral argument,” U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Shipp wrote in a decision.

“Today’s ruling affirms that Governor Murphy acted responsibly in setting up a system that balances the need to allow New Jerseyans to exercise our sacred right to vote while protecting public health during this challenging time,” said Democratic State Chairman John Currie.  “President Trump and the Republicans here in New Jersey who stood with him were interested only in sowing division and trying to undermine faith in our electoral process, and I’m glad to see the court ruled against them and stopped their partisan, cynical attack on our democracy. New Jersey is voting in this election in record numbers and I hope this ruling will be a clear signal to all residents that they can cast their vote with confidence knowing that their voices will be heard.”

Democrats sought dismissal of the complaint earlier this month.

Raj Parikh, the attorney for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the court that Trump and the GOP “claim they are concerned about potential voter fraud, yet New Jersey’s policy ensures that each voter may only vote once.”

“Under the system devised by the Election Law, if a voter submitted a mail ballot and attempted to also vote provisionally, the second ballot would not be counted, protecting New Jersey from the very ills about which Plaintiffs warn,” Parikh wrote in his filing.

He said Republicans “also appear to argue that voters will suffer unequally if there is a surge in provisional voting this November.”

“Instead of seeking relief to lessen the alleged burden on voters, Plaintiffs instead seek to burden voters even more by removing the mail-voting option adopted by the Election Law, potentially disenfranchising thousands. Plaintiffs may disagree with the policy approach adopted by the State, but their lawsuit fails to state any cognizable constitutional claim,” the brief said.  “At most, Plaintiffs’ requested relief makes voting harder for voters, and at the very least it belies common sense.”

The Republican National Committee and the New Jersey Republican State Committee joined Trump in filing the legal action.  The DCCC and the Atlantic County Democrats, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey and the New Jersey NAACP joined the case as interested third parties.

Trump and the Republicans filed an order to show cause two weeks to determine why a federal judge should not stop New Jersey from early counting of general election ballots and permitting mail-in ballots with no postmark to be accepted up to 48 hours after Election Day.

“Ruling on some of Plaintiffs’ challenges, while leaving others outstanding, would continue this litigation as the election approaches,” Parikh wrote.

State Sen. Michael Testa, Jr. (R-Vineland), the attorney for the New Jersey Republicans, disputed the DCCC claims in a letter to the court.

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published this page in News and Politics 2020-10-23 03:06:23 -0700