I'd like to know what legal actions, if any, can be taken supposing that after December the 14th (when the Electoral College meet and vote for Biden) the General Services Administration, instructed by Trump, keeps refusing to recognize Biden and his transition team.

I expect some of you would say "that's illegal", but this is not my question (and, after all, "being illegal" doesn't mean "they won't do that"). My question is: what can be actually done in such scenario? Please, for this scenario, assume Mitch McConnell (i.e., the senate) will fully support Trump.


1 Answer 1


Biden could bring a lawsuit in the U.S. District for the District of Columbia and bring an action under the All Writs Act directed at the official who makes the determination to compel the GSA to recognize him as President-elect under the federal transition statute. He would almost surely prevail.

If the GSA or other officials continued to refuse to cooperate, the court would in addition to granting declaratory judgment, could hold the recalcitrant officials in contempt of court and have them incarcerated until they cooperated.

  • Thanks for your answer. So, in the absolute orwellian-worst-case scenario the proper transition would start some days after Dec 14th, is that correct? Nov 19, 2020 at 2:37
  • 4
    Possibly sooner. I don't know exactly what the threshold is under the statute, but it doesn't cal for a declared electoral college win. Such a suit would probably prevail if brought today since all major media outlets have called the race. December 8, the latest federally allowed certification deadline, is another likely last possible date.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 19, 2020 at 2:41

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