logo

SCOTUS: Electors' Primary Obligation is to The State and Their Party

image
Author: Sara Swann
Created: 06 July, 2020
Updated: 14 August, 2022
2 min read

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in The Fulcrum, and has been republished on IVN with permission from the publisher.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that states may require presidential electors to cast their ballots for the candidate chosen by popular vote.

The decision, written by Justice Elena Kagan, appears to end the quixotic pursuit of a legal endorsement for "faithless electors" — Electoral College delegates who want to follow their own conscience instead of the voters' wishes.

By clearly rejecting the idea that electors can vote however they want, the ruling removes one strategy that opponents of President Trump attempted to use in 2016 and may have wanted to employ again if Trump were reelected this fall.

Kagan concluded that the electors have "no ground for reversing the vote of millions of its citizens."

"That direction accords with the Constitution — as well as with the trust of a nation that here, We the People rule," she concludes.

Kagan's opinion, which includes references to the TV show "Veep" and the smash-hit Broadway musical "Hamilton," was joined by all of the justices except Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

The two endorsed the outcome of the ruling but disagreed with Kagan's reasoning that the prohibition on electors going their own way was based on the Constitution.

Instead, they say the matter is not clear in the Constitution and therefore is left to the states.

IVP Existence Banner

The case emerged from the state of Washington, where three Democratic electors pledged by state law to support Hillary Clinton in 2016 decided to cast their ballots for someone else. The three hoped to convince others to follow their example, particularly those in states won by Trump. Their goal was to deprive him of a majority of electors and throw the election into the House. The electors voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, but they were replaced and fined $1,000 each.

The electors issued legal challenges but lost in district court and state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled the opposite way in a case involving a faithless elector in Colorado. That court said the Constitution gave electors some discretion in casting their votes.

The Supreme Court took up the case to resolve the conflict.

Paul Smith, vice president of the Campaign Legal Center, said the ruling was correct because it eliminates the danger that a candidate could buy an election.

"If electors had been turned loose to violate state law and ignore state's voters, they would have been free to accept contributions from wealthy special interests who want to influence our politics," Smith wrote.

Latest articles

Kennedy
New Poll Shows Kennedy Tied with Biden in Utah; Will Appear in First Debate?
For the first time in decades, an independent presidential candidate has caught up to one of the two establishment parties in a statewide poll....
17 June, 2024
-
5 min read
voting
Poll Shows Strong Support for 'Top Two' Measure in South Dakota
A recent poll shows that 55% of South Dakota voters support Amendment H, which if approved in November will implement a nonpartisan, top-two primary in the state similar to systems used in California and Washington....
13 June, 2024
-
2 min read
Washington DC
Report: Half of 2024 US House Races Already a Done Deal
Editor's Note: The following article on The Fulcrum and has been republished with permission from t...
12 June, 2024
-
3 min read