I read a short piece in the New York Times this afternoon that contained these eye-popping lines, which I texted to a friend:
District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan was appointed by President Trump in 2019, presumably off of the list of Federalist Society vetted judges that all of McConnell’s judicial appointments are drawn from. The judge basically ordered the plaintiffs, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee most prominent among them, to provide some proof of their allegations or admit that they had no proof of widespread fraud in mail-in voting. A rather remarkable development, I thought, and one of great public interest and concern during a pandemic, at a time when an utterly fictitious fear of massive vote-by-mail fraud is being constantly stoked by the president, his AG and all of his other surrogates.
As Bloomberg reported:
The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee sued Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and local election boards on June 29 over their plan for mail-in balloting for the November 3 elections. Trump’s team claimed the plan “provides fraudsters an easy opportunity to engage in ballot harvesting, manipulate or destroy ballots, manufacture duplicitous votes, and sow chaos.”…
… “Plaintiffs shall produce such evidence in their possession, and if they have none, state as much,” said Ranjan, who took his seat on the bench in August 2019. He gave the campaign until Friday.
This evening I followed up on the story, since reporting the judge’s order the news media (UPI and CNN as well as CBS local in Pittsburgh all reported the story) has been unanimously silent about this case.
A search for the story a few hours later, on the NY Times website where I’d read the piece hours earlier (using their own quote — which turned up nothing) as well as multiple searches on Google, YouTube and elsewhere, provided no update. It was almost as if the federal judge had not ordered a party to comply in a case of great national importance, involving the right to safely vote in the presidential election, by the end of business today.
As CNN reported yesterday:
The judge’s order, in a high profile case about vote-by-mail in the battleground state, essentially forces the Trump campaign to try to back up President Donald Trump’s false claims about massive voter fraud in postal voting.
A high profile case? Seems that way to me, though it’s keeping a pretty low profile so far, for such a high profile case.
Plaintiffs DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT, INC.; REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE; et al sued the Attorney General of Pennsylvania and the elections board of every county in the state, making a passionate argument for limiting mail-in voting in Pennsylvania. Here is a taste of the serious allegations made by lawyers for Mr. Trump, from their rip-snorting 75 page complaint:
The result is that a significant portion of votes for elections in Pennsylvania are being cast in a fashion that denies any procedural visibility to candidates, political parties, and the public in general, thereby jeopardizing the free and fair public elections guaranteed by the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions. The most recent election conducted in this Commonwealth and the public reaction to it demonstrate the harm caused by Defendants’ unconstitutional infringements of Plaintiffs’ rights. The continued enforcement of arbitrary and disparate policies and procedures regarding poll watcher access and ballot return and counting poses a severe threat to the credibility and integrity of, and public confidence in, Pennsylvania’s elections.
“Denies procedural visibility?” No idea. The judge ruled Thursday that horrible, arbitrary, disparate and unconstitutional as all that may sound, he would need a few shreds of evidence of actual voter fraud to support the case, to allow it to go forward as if it were an ordinary federal lawsuit, brought in good faith, during normal times, by parties that were not rabidly litigious. What happened at the end of business today when the evidence was due?
Did the plaintiffs simply have a senior Federalist Society judge call Judge Ranjan and tell him to get the hell back in line?
Did they provide the evidence of massive mail-in voter fraud that he ordered to be produced?
Did they go over his head to the appellate court and seek a writ of mandamus to force him to do his job as a political appointee serving at the pleasure of the president, obey the “presumption of regularity” and not try to illegally usurp the legitimate powers of the Executive branch and the campaign arm appurtenant thereto?
What happened at five pm today when the federal court closed for business in Western Pennsylvania? What the hell? I guess I’ll be calling some newsrooms tomorrow.