Supreme Court rules states can punish ‘faithless’ electors

A campaign worker holds an electoral map at the Javits Center in New York City on election night, November 8, 2016. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

July 7 (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can legally punish “faithless” electors — those who formally cast the votes for president of the United States but go against the majority of their state.

The unanimous 9-0 decision is a victory for states that feared allowing rogue electors could disrupt future elections.

In the case of Chiafalo v. Washington, four faithless electors from Colorado and Washington state who voted against their states in the 2016 presidential election challenged fines levied by the states, arguing that they cannot dictate how they vote.

The Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision last year by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

“A state follows in the same tradition if, like Washington, it chooses to sanction an elector for breaching his promise. Then too, the state instructs its electors that they have no ground for reversing the vote of millions of its citizens,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the court’s ruling.

“That direction accords with the Constitution — as well as with the trust of a Nation that here, We the People rule.”

The four faithless electors’ votes did not affect the outcome of President Donald Trump’s victory over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

In oral arguments before the court in May, however, Colorado Attorney General Philip Weiser warned that rogue electors could “occasion a constitutional crisis” in the future. He argued that states would not have power to remove faithless electors even, for example, if it was shown they’d been bribed.


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