Democrats are seeking temporary restraining orders against the Trump campaign and Republicans, as they raise the alarm of possible voter intimidation due to comments from the GOP nominee and others.
But while judges have at times been sympathetic, Democrats have now failed in each case where a hearing has been held: Ohio, Nevada and Arizona. Late Sunday, they filed a request to the US Supreme Court in the Ohio case. It's an uphill climb for the Democrats who face the possibility of a 4-4 court that could deadlock and simply affirm the lower court order that went in Trump's favor.
Monday, federal judges will hold hearings in two additional states, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
By and large the rulings have been victories for the Trump campaign but experts say that the Democrats did manage to bring the issue to the forefront.
"Although the Democrats did not prevail in these cases, they did at least force the Republican Party to state, for the record, that they will not engage in voter intimidation," said Joshua A. Douglas, an election law expert at the University of Kentucky College of Law. "That by itself is important, as it means that the Republican Party is on record saying they will comply with all state voting laws."
The challenges from the Democrats share much of the same language, charging that Republican state parties, the Trump campaign and Roger Stone, who runs an organization called "Stop the Steal," are in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
In Arizona and Nevada, the judges declined to issue injunctions against the Republicans.
Ohio case to the Supreme Court?
A district court judge in Ohio did rule against the Trump campaign and issued an injunction on Friday. In a broad ruling, Judge James Gwin of the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio mostly sided with Democrats against Trump. He issued an order restricting both campaigns of "interrogating, admonishing, interfering with, or verbally harassing voters" and also banned parties from "gathering or loitering" at polling places and "taking photos" of voters in and around the voting place."
Chad A. Readler, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, filed an emergency motion with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals lambasting the lower court's order charging that if left to stand it would "irreparably" harm the campaign "as well as any unsuspecting citizen who falls in the district court's cross-hairs."
"Intimidating voters is illegal, and the campaign does not remotely condone such conduct," Readler wrote.
On Sunday, a three-judge panel of appellate judges lifted the order, giving another victory to the Trump campaign. The court said the Democrats had failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success. A full panel of judges on the court declined to hear an appeal.
Sunday night, Democrats filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court asking justices to vacate the order from the 6th Circuit.
"Over the past several months, Donald J. Trump has warned that the 2016 election will be stolen from him unless supporters in Ohio and elsewhere swarm urban communities and "watch," "[a]nd when [I] say 'watch,' you know what I'm talking about, right?" Marc Elias, a lawyer for the Democrats argued in briefs with the high court. "Trump has said "[t]he only way we can lose . . . and I really mean this . . . is if cheating goes on."
Elias, also argued that a three judge panel of the federal appeals court ruled even before the Democrats were through filing their briefs.
"The Sixth Circuit ordered the stay notwithstanding that it did not call for or receive a substantive response brief from Applicant and, by its own admission, had not yet reviewed the critical evidence on which the District Court relied," he wrote.