Donald Trump was never about “America First.” In reality, he was always about “Trump First.” And Trump believed that the people he “hired” should subscribe to that philosophy—including the 229 federal judges and three U.S. Supreme Court justices he hand-picked.
Clearly, Trump viewed judges as owing loyalty to whoever appointed them, slamming some adverse court decisions in the past as coming from “Obama judges.” With that mindset, Trump declared in September that he wanted to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s vacant seat as soon as possible on the nation’s top court because he believed the 2020 election “would end up in the Supreme Court.” Add to that, once Team Trump began filing its election lawsuits, Trump was on Fox Business in late November pleading for judges to be “brave”—aka, be loyal to Trump.
But like a scene out of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, these Brutuses (in Trump’s eyes) judges really “et tu’d” Trump in his hour of need. The eight Trump-appointed judges who considered Trump and his allies’ post-election lawsuits all—with zero exceptions—ruled against Trump. Simply put, these “Trump judges” choose the U.S. Constitution over loyalty to wannabe emperor Trump—including his most recent high-profile pick to the Supreme Court, Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Despite Trump’s lies about his post-election lawsuits that “the judges won't allow us” to “put the evidence in,” the reality is that over 86 judges from around the nation—including 38 who were appointed by Republicans—considered and rejected Trump and his allies’ efforts to overturn the election and impose the losing candidate, Trump, as president.
And the most damning of the opinions slamming Trump and his legal allies’ lawsuits arguably came from the very people Trump personally picked for the federal bench. One opinion that stands out was written by U.S. Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, a former law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom Trump nominated in June 2017 and who sits on the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.
In Bibas’ Nov. 27, 2020 opinion—joined by the two other GOP appointees on the three-judge panel—he decimated Trump’s claims brought by Rudy Giuliani seeking to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania. The opinion stated bluntly, “Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections.” Bibas then went after the crux of Trump’s claim that there was some type of “unfairness” in the election, noting that such claims are serious but adding, “Charges require specific allegations and then proof.” Then, dropping the boom on Trump, he wrote: “We have neither here.”
There were also the lawsuits brought by Trump’s allies like attorney Lin Wood—whom Trump retweeted Tuesday in his call to imprison Georgia Republican officials who refused to help Trump, including Governor Brian Kemp. Wood had sued the Georgia secretary of state to stop the certification of the election results in the Peach State.
On Dec. 5, 2020, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Wood’s request in an unanimous three-judge opinion written by the very conservative jurist William Pryor and joined by Judge Barbara Lagoa, whom Trump not only appointed to her current seat but who was on the shortlist to fill RBG’s Supreme Court seat. The court found Wood lacked legal standing because he only alleged “a generalized grievance” about election issues—not one specific to him.
There were also the two U.S. Supreme Court cases that the highest court refused to hear, brought by Trump-loving Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Trump booster GOP Rep. Mike Kelly to overturn election results in various battleground states.
In both cases, not one of the three Supreme Court Justices Trump appointed, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, voted to even entertain such an application. So much for the hope of Team Trump, as bluntly expressed by Trump surrogate Harmeet Dhillon on Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business show days after Election Day that, “We're waiting for the United States Supreme Court—of which the President has nominated three justices—to step in and do something.”
But the federal case decided this past Saturday by U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig may be the best to make the point that Trump has had his day in court and even Trump-appointed federal judges found his claims to be absolute garbage. In fact, Biden cited this judge’s very opinion in his speech Monday night when he claimed his rightful victory and torched Trump’s behavior.
Ludwig, who was tapped by Trump in early 2020 to serve on the federal bench and was supported for confirmation by every GOP senator, considered Trump’s jaw-dropping request to allow the GOP-controlled Wisconsin state legislator to award the electors to Trump, despite his losing the state by over 20,000 votes.
Ludwig wrote, and the italics are his: “This is an extraordinary case. A sitting president who did not prevail in his bid for reelection has asked for federal court help in setting aside the popular vote based on disputed issues of election administration, issues he plainly could have raised before the vote occurred.” The judge added that if he granted Trump’s plea to overturn the election, it would “probably” be “the most remarkable ruling in the history of this court or the federal judiciary.”
Judge Ludwig concluded, “This Court has allowed plaintiff [Trump] the chance to make his case and he has lost on the merits.” Boom!
Trump had his day in court before members of the judiciary he appointed, and he failed time and time again. Will this convince Trump supporters that Trump’s claims of fraud, etc. were lies? Probably not. But at least we know the guardrails held up as even Trump-appointed judges refused to put their loyalty to Trump above our Constitution.