Judge Says GOP Suit To Void Mass. Election 'Way Too Late'

Law360 (December 8, 2020, 5:50 PM EST) -- A newly filed suit seeking to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election in Massachusetts drew a chilly reception on Tuesday from a federal judge, who said the group of failed Republican candidates bringing the case likely waited too long to challenge state rules that expanded early and mail-in voting.

U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs said she would hold a hearing Dec. 17 on the injunction request by former U.S. congressional candidates John Paul Moran, Helen Brady and Caroline Colarusso, who are joined by statehouse hopefuls Ingrid Centurion and Craig Valdez. But the judge signaled she is likely to reject their bid to invalidate millions of votes, if not the entire election in Massachusetts. 

"It seems to me that, one, this is way too late for almost all the relief you're seeking and that two, there's nothing specific whatsoever in your complaint that leads me to believe you're entitled to relief," Judge Burroughs told Moran, who argued for himself and the other losing candidates. 

Moran explained that his research into the supposed constitutional defects of the pandemic voting law took some time. He added that he believed none of the candidates would have had the standing to sue until after the election anyway.

Judge Burroughs said: "What you do not get to do is look at an entire arrangement of voting … and not say a word until after you lose the election and then complain about the process."

Moran lost his race to incumbent U.S. Rep. Seth W. Moulton by 30 percentage points, more than 130,000 votes. Brady lost her race for U.S. Rep. Bill Keating's seat by 25 percentage points, or more than 105,000 votes. Colarusso lost to U.S. Rep. Katherine M. Clark by nearly 49 percentage points — more than 190,000 votes. Centurion and Valdez gathered around half the number of votes as their Democratic opponents.

The former candidates filed their suit Monday against Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, claiming "compelling exigencies" and "matters that go to the core of the electoral process."

The lawsuit and request for a preliminary injunction claim the state law passed in July and quickly signed by Baker that changed the early voting rules and established no-excuse mail-in voting violates the state constitution.

The candidates also argue the Massachusetts Constitution calls for a single voting day, not "days or weeks of voting for an election." The suit includes unfounded claims about fraud with local voting systems, and it says mail-in ballots were not adequately signature verified.

The candidates want the court to decertify the election results, stop Massachusetts from sending electors to the Electoral College, and invalidate an estimated 2 million votes mailed in or made through early voting, or else hold a whole new election.

Similar suits challenging the election results in other states have largely been dismissed.

Judge Burroughs said she was "very skeptical" about the timing of the suit and the "posture of the case coming before me." The case was filed Monday, one day before the U.S. safe harbor deadline for state election litigation and voting audits.

"It's December 8. The election happened over a month ago," the judge said. "You're asking me to invalidate an entire election … which strikes me as not just unfair to me and the court and the attorney general's office — and too late and misplaced — but just unfair to all the people that showed up to vote in the election in the middle of a pandemic in order to make their voices heard."

The court is giving the government a week to file its reply to the lawsuit, and it will hold a hearing over the injunction request on Dec. 17.

The five candidates are represented by themselves.

Baker and Galvin are represented by Adam Hornstine and Anne L. Sterman of the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General.

The case is Moran et al. v. Baker et al., case number 1:20-cv-12171, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

--Editing by Janice Carter Brown.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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Case Information

Case Title

Moran et al v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts et al


Case Number

1:20-cv-12171

Court

Massachusetts

Nature of Suit

Constitutional - State Statute

Judge

Allison D. Burroughs

Date Filed

December 07, 2020

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