President Donald Trump's campaign continues to come up short in its post-election legal battle, observers are mulling over ways to go after the president, his campaign, and Republican Party's efforts to suppress votes.
In an editorial published by The Bulwark, Section 1985(3) of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 is being highlighted as a possible form of legal consequence for Trump's actions.
The law, passed by Congress, aimed to enforce consequences for voter suppression and intimidation giving voters the right to sue those "who, motivated by race, conspire...for the purpose of preventing or hindering the constituted authorities of any State...from giving... to all persons within such State... the equal protection of the laws; or... to prevent by force, intimidation, or threat, any citizen who is lawfully entitled to vote, from giving his support or advocacy... in favor of the election of any lawfully qualified person as an elector for President."
While the publication specifies that Trump's post-election legal challenges, alone, would not be enough to support Section 1985(3) claims, actions taken by the Trump campaign "'[hinder] the constituted authorities' of the states in order to disqualify presidential votes in disproportionately Black jurisdictions such as Philadelphia (42.3 percent Black), Detroit (78.6 percent), Atlanta (51.8 percent), and Milwaukee (38.8 percent). Black voters in these jurisdictions can bring lawsuit."
The publication outlined the process of voter certification. After all votes are counted and resolutions have been reached for court challenges, state and local officials are required to certify votes. Any form of interference, at this point, can likely be classified as a form of interference.
The state of Michigan was used an example of interference as it was noted that the Trump campaign has gone "beyond 'hindering' to 'intimidation' and 'threat.'"
A Republican member of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers initially advocated denying certification for Detroit ballots, but not those from whiter cities. Both Republican members then voted against certification (deadlocking the board), before later reversing themselves. Then, after a call from President Trump, they sought to rescind their votes to certify. Next, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox asked to delay state certification for 14 days, which would bump up against the December 7 statutory certification deadline. There have also been requests to disqualify huge numbers of Wisconsin ballots and do a second Georgia recount.
Defendants accused of violating Section 1985(3) typically face "joint and several liability for damages," which means Trump could, subsequently be held liable for his own actions and the actions of his campaign.