Make frivolous litigation great again? Where things stand with the Trump campaign’s election lawsuits and the potential role of the Supreme Court

Katharine Valencia*

Versión en español aquí.

On Saturday, November 7 – four days after Election Day – most major media outlets reported that Joe Biden was the projected winner of the presidential race against incumbent Donald Trump. It is standard practice in the US for elections to be called based on unofficial vote tallies reported by states, before being officially certified several weeks later. According to current popular vote tallies, Biden received about 5.5 million more votes than Trump; but more importantly, Biden is projected to cross the threshold of 270 votes in the electoral college (the proportional state-based system for electing the president) required to win. In normal times, this would result in the losing candidate conceding the race, and the process of certifying votes would be little more than a formality in terms of the final outcome.

However, we do not live in normal times and Donald Trump is anything but a typical president. Trump declared that it is he who is the winner, and that massive fraud had occurred in swing states where tallies showed that Biden had prevailed. Indeed, Trump had signaled for months that he would not concede and that he could only lose if the election was rigged. The Trump campaign and the Republican party have filed multiple lawsuits before and after the election to contest the validity of certain ballots. In the public sphere, Trump and his supporters continue to allege widespread voter fraud, without evidence. This post will provide an overview of the current state of election litigation and consider the likelihood that the US Supreme Court could play a decisive role.

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¿Litigio frívolo en los Estados Unidos? Litigios electorales planteados por el equipo de Trump y el posible rol de la Corte Suprema

Katharine Valencia*

English version here.

El sábado 7 de noviembre —cuatro días después de la jornada electoral—la mayoría de los medios de comunicación informaron que se proyectaba que Joe Biden había ganado las elecciones presidenciales frente al actual presidente Donald Trump. En Estados Unidos es habitual que el resultado de las elecciones se anuncie en función de conteos de votos no oficiales informados por los estados antes de su certificación oficial, que se produce varias semanas más tarde. Según los últimos conteos de votos, Biden recibió alrededor de 5,5 millones más de votos que Trump, pero lo más importante es que se proyecta que Biden superará el mínimo de 270 votos en el Colegio Electoral (sistema proporcional vinculado a los estados que se utiliza para elegir al presidente) necesario para ganar. En épocas normales, el candidato perdedor hubiera aceptado la derrota y el proceso de certificación de votos sería poco más que una formalidad a efectos del resultado final.

Sin embargo, no vivimos en épocas normales y Donald Trump no es para nada un presidente común. Trump declaró que él es el ganador y que en los estados clave donde los conteos de votos demostraban que Biden había triunfado se había cometido un fraude masivo. Lo cierto es que desde hace meses Trump ha estado dando señales de que no aceptaría la derrota y de que solo podría perder si los comicios estuvieran amañados. El equipo de campaña de Trump y el partido republicano iniciaron varias acciones judiciales antes y después de las elecciones para impugnar la validez de determinadas boletas. En el ámbito público, Trump y sus partidarios continúan afirmando, sin aportar pruebas, que hubo fraude electoral generalizado. En este artículo se ofrece una breve descripción del estado actual de los litigios electorales y se analiza la posibilidad de que la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos pueda desempeñar un papel decisivo.

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The National Dialogue – will it lead to greater justice in Guatemala?

Katharine Valencia

DPLF Program Officer

Versión en español aquí

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An ambitious Constitutional reform project convoked by the Government of Guatemala has been underway over the past few months. Known as the “National Dialogue for Justice Sector Reform” (Diálogo Nacional: Hacia la reforma de la Justicia en Guatemala), this project has been led by a Secretariat composed of the Attorney General’s Office, the Human Rights Ombudsman, and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG, in accordance with its mandate to propose legal reforms). These entities joined forces to draft a proposed set of Constitutional reforms, focusing on a relatively narrow set of specific issues: judicial independence, legal aid, and indigenous justice systems, among others.

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MACCIH take shape in Honduras – how effective will it be?

By Katharine Valencia

Program Officer at DPLF

Versión en español

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Yesterday was an important milestone in the development of MACCIH, the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras. Juan Jiménez Mayor, spokesman of the Mission and representative of  Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro, presented the objectives and scope of the Mission in Tegucigalpa. This follows the January 19 signing of the agreement establishing MACCIH in Washington, DC.

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La MACCIH toma forma en Honduras

Por Katharine Valencia

Oficial de Programa en DPLF

English version

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Presentación de la MACCIH en Honduras

El día de ayer en Tegucigalpa se produjo el primer hito importante en la actuación de la Misión de Apoyo contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras (MACCIH). Juan Jiménez Mayor, Vocero de MACCIH y representante del Secretario General de la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA) en este organismo, presentó a la sociedad hondureña los objetivos, principios y líneas de acción de la misión, en concordancia con lo establecido en el convenio de su creación, firmado por el Estado hondureño y la OEA el 19 de enero pasado en Washington, DC.

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With a new Supreme Court on the horizon, what does the future hold for Honduras?

By Katharine Valencia

Program Officer at DPLF

Versión en español 

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Foto Hondudiario

Next week, the Congress of Honduras is expected to select Justices for the highest court in the land – the Supreme Court. The process for getting to this stage, however, has been a long one. Under the Honduran Constitution and other relevant law, a new Supreme Court is elected every 7 years, via a temporary selection body called the Junta Nominadora (JN). The JN is made up of 14 representatives of the country’s workers, professors, civil society organizations, the private sector, the Bar Association, the national Human Rights Ombudsman’s office, and the Supreme Court itself. To briefly summarize a complex process: the JN representatives are selected during the summer and fall, via direct appointment and/or voting by their peers. Once formed, the JN begins to accept and evaluate dozens – this time, close to 200 – nominations from a specific subset of attorneys (notaries). After the first round of review, the JN cut this list in half. Its final task was to further narrow this list down to 45 finalists to send to Congress, which it completed on Tuesday. The legislature now has until January 25 to pick 15 of these finalists to form the new Supreme Court. (According to the relevant law, the JN had until January 23 to submit its final list, but as this would only have given Congress 2 days to evaluate the candidates, it was under pressure to try to do so ahead of schedule).

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Con una nueva Corte Suprema, ¿qué futuro le espera a Honduras?

Por: Katharine Valencia

Oficial de  Programa en DPLF

English version

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Foto: Hondudiario

 

Se espera que el Congreso de Honduras elija la próxima semana a los ministros de la más alta corte del país, la Corte Suprema. Sin embargo, ha sido un largo camino para llegar a este momento. De acuerdo con las leyes y la Constitución hondureña, se elige una nueva Corte Suprema cada 7 años por medio de un organismo temporal y especializado de selección denominado la Junta Nominadora (JN). La JN está compuesta por 14 representantes de organizaciones laborales, de profesores y de la sociedad civil, así como provenientes del sector privado, el Colegio de Abogados, la oficina del El Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos y de la misma Corte Suprema.

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The UN Forum on Business and Human Rights needs to be more inclusive, improve business engagement

Smoke Stack from Sugar Factory in Belle Glade Florida

Photo: Kim Seng

By: Katharine Valencia

Program Officer at DPLF

Last month, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) hosted the 4th annual Forum on Business and Human Rights. This massive event attracted upwards of 2,300 attendees from civil society, government, and the private sector. The three-day Forum provides the opportunity for the diverse BHR community to engage with fellow practitioners, activists, and people on the front lines of the most pressing BHR issues today. This year’s theme was “Tracking Progress and Ensuring Coherence,” and discussion topics included the pending treaty on BHR, access to remedy for victims, and land rights. (full list of panels and events held during this year’s forum; most are available for streaming here ).

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