Bravo v. Pelosi is the latest attempt to overturn the 2020 US Presidential and Congressional elections. The plaintiffs are suing everyone they think is even remotely related to the election, and a number of those defendants haven't responded to the summons.

Normally, if a defendant fails to respond to a summons, the plaintiff can get a default judgement and the requested relief is granted. However, in this case, the core of that relief is:

  • Permanent injunctive relief in the form of a new federal election for Congress, President, and Vice President;
  • Permanent injunctive relief forever restraining Defendants from ever holding public office or participating in any way in an election campaign to public office other than exercising their own right to vote;
  • Permanent injunctive relief forever restraining Defendants from violating Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights described herein,

Most of it looks like it's either outside the power of the court to grant, outside the power of the defendants to provide, or both. How would the court proceed in this case?

(If it matters, ignore the fact that a few of the 643 defendants have responded, some haven't yet been served, and others don't yet need to respond. The case itself is a royal mess.)

  • "is a royal mess" xD ...Legendary description! +1 is up!
    – kisspuska
    May 29, 2021 at 3:46

1 Answer 1


A federal court may dismiss a complaint sua sponte (i.e. without a request to do so from a party) if it is beyond its subject matter jurisdiction (a category of defenses including lack of standing) or fails to state a claim for relief on its face.

A Motion to Dismiss filed in the case provides a roadmap for the judge to dismiss the entire case. It argues in essence:

  • A Texas federal court can't assert jurisdiction over Georgia defendants.
  • A federal court can't entertain claims against state officials in their official capacities for the kind of relief requested.
  • The plaintiffs lack standing to sue.

Subject matter jurisdiction defenses (and lack of personal jurisdiction defenses) are also not barred from being raised later in a motion to vacate the judgment, by a default judgment.

The Texas federal court can also sanction parties for filing frivolous claims by, for example, awarding all of the costs and attorney fees incurred by the defendants against the party bringing the suit in a motion requesting that relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 against the parties and/or their attorney.

I would not be surprised if the Plaintiffs' attorney in this case, Paul M. Davis, was disbarred and bankrupted by it.

Class action lawsuits can't proceed as such until certified by the court.

Furthermore, a summons has to be personally hand delivered with a complaint to be served in a way that is sufficient to result in an entry of a default judgment, even if the complaint is otherwise valid. This is unlikely to have occurred in all 600+ cases.

There are several instances in which a "clerk's default" has been entered, but that simply indicates that a return of service (even if facially defective) was filed by the Plaintiff and that the number of days set forth in the summons for a response has lapsed. In contrast, prior to entering a default judgment, which must be done by a judge, the judge must review the complaint to determine if the court has jurisdiction over the case and if a valid legal claim is stated in the complaint.

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