Judge dismisses Gohmert’s election suit against Pence

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit that challenges President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, as Congress moves toward finalizing the results of the 2020 election.

The January certification of states’ electoral votes, overseen by the vice president, is usually considered a formality. But a lawsuit filed last week by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, seeks to upend the process.

In some key battleground states, groups of Republicans have baselessly declared themselves to be “alternate electors,” claiming to represent the true wishes of the voters. Gohmert and the other plaintiffs — including a group of self-proclaimed electors from Arizona — argue that when confronted with competing slates of electors, the Constitution gives Vice President Mike Pence the power to choose which electors to certify.

The legal challenge, which reflected the longstanding refusal of certain Republicans to acknowledge Biden’s victory, was widely seen as a long shot. Now, Judge Jeremy Kernodle in Texas has ruled that the plaintiffs don’t have standing to sue. He says they haven’t met the requirement that they show they’ve been injured by the defendant and that the relief they ask for would redress that injury.

In their suit, which names the vice president as the defendant, the Republican plaintiffs argue that a 19th century law spelling out how Congress should handle the count is unconstitutional, because it directs Pence to tally the electoral votes as they’ve been reported by the states.

These Republicans argue that the 12th Amendment gives Pence, not the states, sole discretion to determine which among competing slates of electors may be counted.