- The election lawsuits filed by President Donald Trump and his allies repeatedly went after places where disproportionate numbers of Black voters live.
- In lawsuit documents and in rhetoric, Trump went after diverse cities in battleground states. He didn’t challenge other areas that voted by the same rules.
- Republicans have a history of making it harder for people of color to vote, and have a disproportionately white base compared to the Democratic Party and country as a whole.
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In a hearing at the Wisconsin Supreme Court over one of President Donald Trump’s election lawsuits, Justice Jill Karofsky made a comment that quickly went viral.
Addressing Jim Troupis, the lawyer representing the Trump campaign’s quest to invalidate more than 220,000 votes in two of the state’s 72 counties, Karofsky said he targeted Milwaukee and Dane counties, “because of their diverse populations, because they’re urban.”
“This lawsuit, Mr. Troupis, smacks of racism,” Karofsky said Saturday.
It was an acknowledgment by a judge of what has long been evident: Trump’s lawsuits have tried to throw out votes in counties where Black voters live, even as the votes in those counties were handled in the same way as places where white voters live.
Trump and his allies continue to file new lawsuits and appeals even as the Electoral College certifies President-elect Joe Biden’s win Monday, and even as none of them have won in court. Karofsky joined three other justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in ruling against Trump in the case Monday, bringing his total loss tally to 36.
His campaign pursued similar strategies in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia — challenging the election results in areas where large numbers of nonwhite voters live, while making no challenges to other areas that voted by the same rules. All of the lawsuits failed.
- In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign filed an 85-page lawsuit that tried to invalidate the votes of Allegheny, Centre, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia counties — all of which voted for Biden. It cited voter fraud examples in Fayette and Luzerne counties, which were not targeted in the lawsuit and which voted for Trump.
- In Michigan, the Trump campaign’s challenge focused on Wayne County, home to Detroit, where the population is around 80% Black. According to USA Today, the challenge didn’t allege any voting anomalies in suburban counties with large white populations where Biden also won by significant margins.
- In Arizona, the campaign sued over the results in Maricopa County, which has a disproportionately large Hispanic and Latino population, according to USA Today.
- And in Georgia, the Trump campaign’s legal challenge targeted Chatham County, which includes the city of Savannah and which is more than 40% Black, according to 2010 census data.
Rudy Giuliani, the leader of the Trump campaign’s legal team challenging election results, has not exactly been subtle with his rhetoric, either.
In a Pennsylvania federal court, Giuliani falsely claimed the city of Philadelphia was engaged in widespread voter fraud, and included Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Milwaukee, and Detroit in his tirade against the phantom fraud for good measure. In an interview last week, he said election officials in Georgia’s largely Black Fulton County were “passing around USB ports like they were vials of heroin or cocaine.”
Trump himself has made similar comments, as The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer pointed out, baselessly bashing the largely Black cities of Detroit of Philadelphia in early November, before each city became the target of his failed election lawsuits.
“Detroit and Philadelphia — known as two of the most corrupt political places anywhere in our country, easily — cannot be responsible for engineering the outcome of a presidential race,” Trump said on November 5.
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told NPR there was a “racial dimension” to the Trump campaign’s legal assault on those cities.
“It is difficult for me to think of another president in modern time who has literally driven a national scheme to disenfranchise Black voters and other voters of color en masse, in the way that we see with these post-election lawsuits,” she told NPR.
Republicans have historically tried to make it harder for Black Americans to vote
Support for the Republican Party is overwhelmingly white. According to a 2019 Pew survey, 81% of the party’s support comes from white voters compared to 59% of the Democratic Party’s support. And 69% of the US electorate is white overall, according to the same survey.
In 1982, the Republican National Committee, after coming under criticism for sending off-duty police officers to patrol Black and Latino neighborhoods during voting periods, agreed to a consent decree to stop voter intimidation tactics. A federal judge lifted that restriction in 2018.
Republicans in many states pass voting laws that make it harder for communities of color to vote, and those efforts have only ramped up since the conservative-majority Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013.
That has continued in the 2020 election. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, just two weeks before Election Day, issued a rule that permitted only one drop-off location for mail-in ballots per county. That left voters living in the state’s more populous, diverse counties at a disadvantage.
Trump ended up winning Texas by more than 600,000 votes. But when he lost the presidential election, Republican officials in Texas threw a fit.
The state’s attorney general filed a falsehood-filled lawsuit to the Supreme Court challenging the results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia, where Biden won. The lawsuit accused “a few urban centers” of manufacturing an “unlawful” vote margin.
The Supreme Court decided to reject a hearing for the lawsuit. The Electoral College will formally certify Biden’s victory on Monday.