A July 11 federal court case in Richmond, Virginia, comes in the midst of much debate over delegate rules, and has the potential to turn the tables on Trump at the GOP convention.
Virginia RNC delegate Carroll Correll Jr., backed by the Citizens in Charge Foundation, sued Virginia Attorney General Mark Herrig and other state officials over delegate binding laws. Correll was successful in overturning rules that required delegates to vote winner-take-all, rather than proportionally. He hopes the ruling will aid GOP delegates who are hesitant to jump on the Trump train to vote their conscience at the national convention in Cleveland.
Lost? Let’s back up a second.
At the Republican National Convention, delegates from all 50 states, DC, and territories will come together to officially determine the Republican nominee. Delegates are typically required -- or “bound”-- to vote how state party rules tells them to, whether winner-take-all or proportionally.
So even if a delegate personally supports Cruz (for instance), if they’re “bound” to vote for Trump, they can’t vote for Cruz. Otherwise, under RNC Rule 16, their vote would be considered void.
In principle, the ruling says that states cannot enforce laws requiring delegates to vote winner-take-all, striking down a $2,500 fine for rebellious Virginia delegates. Instead, Correll asserts that proportional voting allows delegates to vote their conscience -- which Republicans were reportedly planning to do already.
That said, many GOP members are skeptical. Fox News quotes a Trump supporter who said, “It will have no impact on the Virginia delegation… Nor will it have any long-term ramification for Donald Trump’s quest for the nomination on the first ballot.”
But according to Correll, this is a “symbolic victory” that “morbidly humiliated” the Trump camp, as it could (conceivably) encourage more Republican delegates to vote against Trump at the convention -- a “delegate revolt” that is increasingly possible, but unlikely to succeed.
Delegate rules are under much scrutiny in the 2016 election, even within the major parties. As mainstream some Republicans explore their options for voting against Trump, many Democrats seek to rework rules regarding superdelegates -- in some states, going so far as to seek their abolition.
How the Correll court case will impact the RNC convention remains to be seen.