The Michigan recount may be over before it really got started. Attorney General Bill Schuette won his argument at the Michigan Court of Appeals that Jill Stein, who finished a distant fourth in the presidential election, does not qualify as an “aggrieved” party since a recount has no chance of winning the election, recount or not. Thanks to a clause in the federal ruling, this could put an end to the Michigan recount:
The State Court of Appeals has encouraged the Michigan Board of State Canvassers to reject Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s recount petition, marking the latest turn in a flurry of legal drama over the recount.
The ruling comes after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in a 2-1 decision U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith’s Monday ruling allowing the recount to proceed immediately. In that ruling, the federal court determined the order issued by Goldsmith could be dismissed if state courts ruled the recount to be out of order with state law.
Following the state court ruling, Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement he would file a motion in federal court seeking to dissolve the temporary restraining order.
The court ruling explicitly rejected the argument from Stein’s attorney that she qualified as an aggrieved party in the outcome. It then went further and scolded the Board of State Canvassers, ruling that they had a duty to reject Stein’s recount demand and had failed by not doing so. The board meets tomorrow at 9:30 am ET, at which point Schuette will ask them to comply.
Schuette celebrated his win on Twitter:
The Michigan Court of Appeals agreed that Jill Stein is not an aggrieved candidate and the recount must stop.
— Bill Schuette (@SchuetteOnDuty) December 7, 2016
Prior to this, most assumed that the state courts wouldn’t have much impact on the process after the federal district court ordered the recount to start immediately. That changed when Schuette appealed; they apparently narrowed the decision to just the two-day delay before the start, leaving open the central question of whether the recount was appropriate. (Recall that the federal judge in the original ruling ordered the recount to continue once started unless he ordered a halt to it.) Of course, the Stein campaign will appeal this to the state Supreme Court, but Schuette has precedent on his side for the argument over an “aggrieved” status. Meanwhile, the recount will likely come to halt.
Interestingly, Stein’s lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania has been scheduled for Friday. That doesn’t exactly bode well for Stein; if the judge was inclined to intervene in Pennsylvania’s process, he’d be more likely to do so immediately. Right now, it looks like the only recount that Stein will get is in Wisconsin, where the results are spectacularly consistent with Election Night results. Today’s results show that 1,621,157 have been recounted in precincts that have finished, 55.15% of all votes cast. The net change in ballots is 393 added to the results, with Hillary Clinton only getting three more (142) of those than Trump (139), and Stein getting 50. Since Trump has a 22,617-vote lead in Wisconsin, it goes without saying that this recount isn’t going anywhere.
Update: On further reflection, let’s say that Michigan’s recount will likely come to a halt. The board could surprise everyone and defy Schuette and the appellate court, or the state or federal Supreme Court could weigh in and keep it going. At this point, nothing in 2016 would surprise me.
Update: The federal appeals order is here. The court made a very narrow ruling, in which the court makes repeated statements that the judgment of whether Stein qualifies for a recount is left to the state of Michigan. That’s why the Michigan appellate ruling should take precedence at tomorrow’s Board of Canvassers meeting.