An attorney who filed an election lawsuit that pitted Georgia Republican politicians against each other faces disciplinary action for what a judge called “political grandstanding” in the case.
The lawsuit, filed in December in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, sought to overturn presidential election results in Georgia and four other states won by Joe Biden. Judge James Boasberg dismissed the lawsuit’s request for an injunction against the states in January. And on Friday he referred the plaintiff’s attorney — Erick Kaardal — to a committee on grievances for possible discipline.
It’s the latest consequence for attorneys involved in a tsunami of litigation that sought to overturn the presidential election in Georgia.
The State Bar of Georgia has threatened to revoke the law license of attorney L. Lin Wood, who called for the execution of then-Vice President Mike Pence and has accused Georgia and U.S. officials of conspiring to steal the presidential election from Donald Trump. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Wood’s appeal of a lawsuit that challenged Georgia’s presidential election results.
Meanwhile, the company that makes Georgia’s election hardware and software has filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against attorney Sidney Powell, whose own election lawsuit cited debunked conspiracy theories about the voting system. The company has filed a similar lawsuit against Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who lobbied Georgia lawmakers to overturn the election.
The District of Columbia lawsuit was notable for pitting two Georgia Republican legislators against top officials from their own party.
The plaintiffs included state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, and then-state Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, who did not seek reelection. The defendants included Pence, Gov. Brian Kemp, state House Speaker David Ralston and state Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller.
The lawsuit contended that state legislators in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin violated their duties under the U.S. Constitution by failing to certify the presidential election results themselves, instead of delegating that responsibility to other officials such as Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. It asked the court to order Pence and Congress to reject presidential electors from those states.
Boasberg dismissed the claims on numerous grounds. Among other things, he noted the plaintiffs waited until seven weeks after the election to challenge state laws that have existed for decades. And he said the lawsuit “rests on a fundamental and obvious misreading of the Constitution.”
“It would be risible were its target not so grave: the undermining of the democratic election for president of the United States,” he wrote.
Boasberg also ripped Kaardal — a Minneapolis attorney for the conservative Thomas More Society — for making no effort to serve the lawsuit on the defendants. The failure “renders it difficult to believe that the suit is meant seriously,” he wrote. “Courts are not instruments through which parties engage in such gamesmanship or symbolic political gestures.”
On Friday, the judge followed up by referring Kaardal for disciplinary action.
In a brief in his defense, Kaardal said he served the lawsuit on all but two of the 19 defendants by the time the judge dismissed their request for an injunction on Jan. 4. He also argued that disciplinary action would have a chilling effect on parties that make “good faith arguments for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.”
The judge was not convinced. In Friday’s order, Boasberg cited the “flimsiness of the underlying basis for the suit.” Among other things, he said the lawsuit explicitly stated it was “not about voter fraud,” then detailed at length fraud allegations raised in other lawsuits.
“The only reason the court can see for the complainant to spend 70+ pages on irrelevant allegations of fraud, not one of which persuaded any court in any state to question the election’s outcome, is political grandstanding,” Boasberg wrote.
Kaardal also was an attorney in another lawsuit that sought to overturn the presidential election in Georgia. A Fulton County judge dismissed that case in December.