Mike Pence shoots down lawsuit by fellow Republicans pushing him to overturn the 2020 election

Mike Pence shoots down lawsuit by fellow Republicans pushing him to overturn the 2020 election
Vice President Mike Pence at Arlington National Cemetary // Photo by Ms. Lisa Ferdinando

Attorneys for Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday filed a response in federal court to a lawsuit brought by Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who hopes to overturn the 2020 presidential election. On behalf of Pence, the Justice Department lawyers asked the court to throw out the suit.

It was an exceptionally bizarre lawsuit to bring before a court from the start. Gohmert sued the vice president — a member of his own party — asking the court to declare that he has the power to reject votes of the Electoral College.

As vice president, Pence is expected to preside over the counting of votes on Jan. 6 to declare the winner of the election. But the role is, for all intents and purposes, ceremonial. The Electoral College has voted, and the results are clear: President-elect Biden won, with 306 votes to President Donald Trump's 232. In theory, members of Congress can object and deliberate on the validity of certain slates of electors, and they will. But there are undoubtedly enough members of Congress willing to affirm Biden's win, and Pence can't change that.

Still, many Republicans, including the president himself, have put their hopes on the idea that Jan. 6 will be a pivotal date, rather than a formality. Gohmert's lawsuit was a part of that.

But Pence, represented by his lawyers, isn't buying it.

"Plaintiffs have presented this Court with an emergency motion raising a host of weighty legal issues about the manner in which the electoral votes for President are to be counted," the filing said. "But these plaintiffs' suit is not a proper vehicle for addressing those issues because plaintiffs have sued the wrong defendant. The Vice President—the only defendant in this case—is ironically the very person whose power they seek to promote. The Senate and the House, not the Vice President, have legal interests that are sufficiently adverse to plaintiffs to ground a case or controversy under Article III. Defendant respectfully request denial of plaintiffs' emergency motion because the relief that plaintiffs request does not properly lie against the Vice President."

It concludes: "For the foregoing reasons, the Court should deny plaintiffs' request for expedited declaratory judgment and emergency injunctive relief against the Vice President."

In a particularly scathing portion, the lawyers argue that the "suit to establish that the Vice President has discretion over the count, filed against the Vice President, is a walking legal contradiction."

Essentially, Pence's filing asks: "Why are you suing me?"

The response lays out several additional legal objections to the lawsuit as well, such as the fact that Gohmert has not demonstrated that he has suffered a harm that is redressable by the courts.

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