Politics

The Trump Campaign Was Just Dealt a Major Legal Blow

Months of voter-fraud allegations by presidential candidate Donald Trump have finally caught up to him, as a judge in Ohio issued a restraining order against his campaign preventing “volunteer poll watchers” from engaging in voter intimidation and harassment in the crucial swing-state on election day

The order is the culmination of an October lawsuit filed by the Ohio Democratic Party against the Ohio Republican Party, Trump’s campaign organization, Trump ally Roger Stone, and Stone’s PAC Stop the Steal. Using a range of historical and current examples, the suit alleged that the groups were engaged in an organized and highly coordinated conspiracy to “threaten, intimidate, and thereby prevent minority voters in urban neighborhoods from voting in the 2016 election.”

“[I]t has also become clear in recent weeks,” the suit continues, "that Trump has sought to advance his campaign’s goal of 'voter suppression' by using the loudest microphone in the nation to implore his supporters to engage in unlawful intimidation at Ohio polling places.”

U.S. District Court Judge James Gwin agreed with the suit, and today issued a temporary restraining order against Trump's campaign, Stone, and their employees or supporters, which restricts them from engaging in activities designed to intimidate or harass voters. These include physically hindering or following voters, unauthorized poll watching, admonishing or questioning voters’ choices, passing out literature, and recording or photographing voters in and around polling places. The ruling dismissed the Ohio Republican Party from the suit.

The suit in Ohio was one of a number of Democratic lawsuits filed against Trump, his campaign, and the Republican National Committee in recent weeks seeking legal remedies to the possibility of mass voter suppression by Trump supporters. A federal suit in New Jersey is currently being argued, with other suits in Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona all either filed or scheduled for hearings, the Atlantic reports.

The restraining order, and the potential of more such orders in critical states, might have profound ramifications for the election. Entire PAC’s, such as Stone’s Stop the Steal, exist for the sole purpose of monitoring poll locations, and Trump’s alt-right followers, major donors, and high-profile supporters have all pledged to send volunteers, money, or both to help prevent the election from being “rigged.”

Trump himself has whipped up his rallies with racially-charged warnings of Democratic chicanery, particularly in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania. The suit in Pennsylvania was filed October 31, and a ruling hasn’t been issued at this time.