SCOTUS ruling means Colorado can remove ‘faithless electors’

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Published Tuesday, July 7, 2020
by Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can penalize presidential electors who don't cast their votes for candidates who win a state's popular vote.

SCOTUS in a per curiam decision overturned a ruling on Colorado's "faithless elector" case, Baca v. Colorado Department of State, by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said it was unconstitutional for Colorado's Secretary of State to remove an Electoral College elector during the 2016 election.

The Supreme Court, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor recused from Baca v. Colorado Department of State in March, cited its decision in Chiafalo v. Washington for overturning the court of appeal's decision.

"We consider whether a State may also penalize an elector for breaking his pledge and voting for someone other than the presidential candidate who won his State's popular vote. We hold that a State may do so," Justice Elena Kagan wrote the Chiafalo v. Washington, which received a unanimous ruling.

In 2016, Colorado elector Micheal Baca was removed for supporting John Kasich rather than Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote in the state.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who argued in front of the court on behalf of the state, said Monday it's an "important decision" that "removes the uncertainty that otherwise would have ensued."

"It is a great relief to have this decided well in advance of a presidential election so we're not arguing about these rules," he added.

Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who oversees elections in Colorado, called the case "a recommitment to our fundamental right to vote, to have our voices heard in the presidential election, and also a recommitment to states rights to be able to enforce state law so that a few unelected presidential electors cannot undermine every single voter in Colorado and every single voter across the nation."

Governor Jared Polis called the court's ruling an "important decision for the integrity of our democracy.

"Until our country can fully reform our outdated electoral college rules, at least the vote of the people will be reflected by our electors," he added.

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