MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A split Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.
The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits.
Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities. Dissenting conservative justices said the decision would forever “stain” the outcome of the election.
Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered.
His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.
Trump had wanted the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, saying there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting first with a lower court given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.
But attorneys for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the state Department of Justice argued the lawsuit had to start with lower courts.