A longshot lawsuit by a trio of Utah brothers has captured the imagination of many on the fringes of the political right.
The suit, which leans on baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 elections, seeks to kick President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and nearly 400 members of Congress out of office and reinstate Donald Trump to the White House — though a legal expert says there’s very little chance of that happening.
On Friday, two years after a horde of Donald Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol as part of an attempted coup, the Supreme Court is scheduled to decide whether to hear Brunson v. Adams.
The lawsuit claims members of Congress violated their oaths of office by allegedly failing to investigate and covering up evidence of foreign election interference that rigged the election against Donald Trump.
The plaintiff on the Supreme Court petition is Raland Brunson of Ogden. His brother, Loy, unsuccessfully ran for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in 2018 and 2022 and has an identical lawsuit now in federal court.
Brunson’s suit claims rampant fraud invalidated his vote for Donald Trump in 2020. The complaint asks that the 387 members of Congress who voted to certify Biden’s election be immediately thrown out of office and barred from ever running again. Biden and Harris would also be removed from the White House and banned from running, as would former Vice President Mike Pence.
Among those facing expulsion if the suit succeeds include Utah Reps. John Curtis and Blake Moore, and Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, who all voted to certify Biden’s election. Reps. Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens joined with the majority of their House Republican colleagues by voting to throw out electoral votes for Biden in Pennsylvania, citing vague allegations of election integrity.
Then, the suit says that not having a president or vice president in office is a national security risk, so Trump should become immediately eligible to be inaugurated president. The argument ignores the presidential line of succession, which would elevate the speaker of the House of Representatives to the presidency.
“It’s very possible that Donald Trump could be the President of the United States in the next few days,” Loy Brunson claimed confidently during a Thursday interview with Roger Stone.
These right-wing theories have been publicized on far-right media, including the notorious fake news website Gateway Pundit and promoted by former Arkansas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. The Brunsons have an active Telegram channel, Twitter account and presence on Trump’s Truth Social platform to publicize their case. The suit even caught the attention of state Rep.-elect Trevor Lee, R-Layton, who, in tweeting his “wildest precision for 2023,” said, “Lloyd (sic) Brunson’s case on January 6 changes everything.”
On social media, the Brunsons have asked followers to write a pair of letters, one to the Supreme Court in support of the case, the other to send them a dollar to fund their efforts. They claim to have received more than 50,000 pieces of mail so far.
Brunson’s case has taken a winding path since it was filed in Utah’s Second District Court in June of 2021. The case was moved to a federal district court, where it was dismissed for lack of standing. Brunson’s appeal of that dismissal to the 10th Circuit Court was denied, prompting the current appeal to the Supreme Court.
Although Raland is listed as the complainant on the Supreme Court petition and is representing himself, his brother Deron Brunson says he is the legal expert of the family.
“I’m the guy who put it all together,” he said during a telephone conversation.
Deron forcefully claims that members of Congress who voted to certify Biden’s election win violated their oath of office and repeatedly said the lack of an investigation into claims of election interference was an “act of war.”
“Allegations that the election is rigged should not be given aid and comfort, it should be investigated and if false it should be squashed and the perpetrators held accountable for such false claims, if found to be true then those people involved should be charged with treason,” Brunson said in a follow-up email.
There is no evidence that widespread fraud occurred in the 2020 election or on a scale that would change the outcome.
Brunson is also asking for $2.9 billion in damages, and that the court make it “tax-free.” When asked why he thought the court could waive taxes on that windfall, Brunson replied, “We think the court has the power to do that.”
The case is scheduled for the Supreme Court’s conference meeting on January 6. If at least four of the nine justices vote to hear the case, they’ll hear oral arguments later this year. Andrew Torrez, a lawyer and co-host of the “Opening Arguments” legal podcast, says don’t bet that the justices will take the case because the government waived its right to file a response to Brunson’s petition.
“That’s the government saying this is so atrocious there is no chance the court is going to take this. Don’t make us waste time writing paper to tell you something you already know,” Torrez said.
Torrez, who recently devoted an entire episode to discussing Brunson’s lawsuit, adds the waiver has a caveat asking the court to inform them if they would like them to file a response, which would only happen if there was a possibility the court was seriously considering the case.
“As someone who has been practicing law for 25 years, I have never, ever seen the Supreme Court take a case where the government waived their right to respond to the petition. If you’re a gambling man, this is a pretty strong indicator the court is going to deny the suit,” Torrez says.
Brunson’s appeal is scheduled for discussion among the justices on Friday, with a decision expected sometime Monday. There is a chance they could run out of time during Friday’s conference, which would delay any determination until the next conference day, scheduled for January 13.
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