Vice President Mike Pence, through the Justice Department, asked a federal court on Thursday to turn aside a lawsuit a Texas congressman filed against him seeking to empower Mr. Pence to overturn President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s win in the 2020 election.
The Justice Department said Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, and other plaintiffs sued the wrong person.
“The relief that plaintiffs request does not properly lie against the Vice President,” DOJ lawyers said in a court filing on Thursday.
Mr. Pence designated Deputy Assistant Attorney General John V. Coghlan as his attorney in the case.
Mr. Gohmert had argued in the lawsuit filed this week that Mr. Pence, who oversees the Electoral College tally in Congress on Jan. 6, has the power to choose alternate slates of electors that could tip the election to President Trump.
Mr. Pence’s counsel said if Mr. Gohmert has a grievance, he should sue the U.S. House and Senate because they are actively involved in affirming the Electoral College tally.
“By contrast, a suit to establish that the Vice President has discretion over the count, filed against the Vice President, is a walking legal contradiction,” DOJ lawyers said.
Mr. Gohmert and Arizona voters asked U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle to give Mr. Pence the sole discretion to decide which electors to choose.
As president of the Senate, Mr. Pence will preside over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 and announce the Electoral College results.
The role is generally ceremonial, with the vice president tasked with announcing the state-by-state results as they come in.
Mr. Biden defeated Mr. Trump by a 306-232 tally. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.
Douglas N. Letter, counsel for the U.S. House, also filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Thursday seeking to get the lawsuit thrown out.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mr. Gohmert’s lawsuit “yet another sabotage of our democracy.”
House Republicans and at least one U.S. senator plan to lodge objections to the election results.
Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia Republican, told The Washington Times recently that Mr. Pence is “on board” with the push.
• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.