Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and members of the House Freedom Caucus hold a press conference to call on Attorney General William Barr to release the results of an investigation into 2020 election fraud allegations outside the Capitol on Thursday, December 3, 2020.
Tom Williams | CQ Appeal, Inc. | Getty Images
The Justice Department on Thursday filed a desperate Republican-led lawsuit to undo President-elect Joe Biden’s victory on the electoral college, calling the case against Vice President Mike Pence “a walking legal contradiction.”
The DOJ said in a recent lawsuit that Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, and 11 Arizona Republicans have sued “the false accused” – pence – in the case.
And senior DOJ officials called on a judge to deny the motion for an injunction allegedly enabling Pence to ignore the votes of the electoral college of a handful of battlefield states that gave Biden his lead over President Donald Trump.
Pence will chair Congress next week when he meets to confirm Biden’s victory.
Gohmert’s lawsuit calls on Federal Judge Jeremy Kernodle, a Trump appointee in the US Court for the Eastern District of Texas, to state that Pence has “the sole power and discretion” to determine which votes of any given state are counted should.
Republicans are calling on Kernodle to give Pence that power by deleting key sections of the Electoral Count Act of 1887, a law they claim contradicts the 12th Amendment.
Gohmert’s claim contradicts legal experts who say that Pence’s role, or that of a vice-president, is to direct the count of votes cast by the electoral college, not to judge which are valid or not.
Pence is the sole defendant in this case – a fact highlighted by John Coghlan, the DOJ’s assistant assistant attorney general, when he argued against the issuance of the injunction.
“These plaintiffs’ lawsuit is not an appropriate means of addressing these issues as plaintiffs have sued the false defendant,” Coghlan wrote in a trial.
“The vice president – the only defendant in this case – is ironically the very person whose power you want to promote,” wrote Coghlan.
“The Senate and the House of Representatives, not the Vice-President, have legal interests which sufficiently oppose the plaintiffs to establish a case or controversy under Article III. The defendant respectfully requests that the urgency motion of the plaintiffs be rejected because that requested by the plaintiffs Relief is not right against the Vice President. “
Coghlan also suggested that if there was a suitable target for Gohmert’s suit, it would be the House and Senate, not Pence.
“In fact, it is logically those bodies against which the relief requested by the plaintiffs must proceed.”
Later on Thursday, a House attorney filed his own brief asking Kernodle to dismiss the case.
“Aside from the claims made by Representative Gohmert – for which he clearly has no credit – this case is just another attempt by defeated Arizona candidates to reverse the results of their state’s referendum,” wrote Douglas Letter, General Counsel of the House.
“The Arizona plaintiffs tried, and failed, to overturn choices in lawsuits they filed in federal and state courts in Arizona,” Letter wrote.
“So you are now asking this Texas court to help you accomplish what you failed to do in Arizona. This court should reject the plaintiffs’ offer to overthrow a cornerstone of our nation’s democratic process.”
The latest Republican lawsuit follows dozen of failed attempts by Trump’s campaign and his allies to have the courts reversed or voided Biden’s votes.
Numerous House Republicans have supported some of these efforts, most notably an offer from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to have the US Supreme Court annul the results of four major swing states. The Supreme Court refused to hear this case.
Some Republican lawmakers plan to contest the election results when Congress meets next Wednesday. Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri was the first Senator to take the move this week.
If a house member and a senator jointly object to a state’s electoral roll, the two houses must debate it separately and then vote on the objection.
Experts say there is no real chance of reversing the election result. Pence has shown no sign that he will raise these objections or otherwise attempt to overthrow the election.