The effort to essentially do away with the Electoral College received an enormous boost yesterday when the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of appeals filed by the states of Washington (Chiafalo v. State of Washington) and Colorado (Colorado Department of State v. Baca) regarding laws requiring electors to vote according to the will of those states.
Specifically, the appeals addressed so-called “faithless electors” — people who refused to cast their votes for the popular vote winner in their states.
Writing on behalf of the court, Justice Elena Kagan said:
“The Constitution’s text and the nation’s history both support allowing a state to enforce an elector’s pledge support his party’s nominee — and the state voters’ choice — for president.
“The Constitution is barebones about electors. Article II includes only the instruction to each State to appoint, in whatever way it likes, as many electors as it has Senators and Representatives.” (emphasis mine)
Sounds reasonable, until you consider what motivated the appeal in the first place. Washington and Colorado don’t care about the will of the voters in their states, they only care about finding a way around the Electoral College that allows them to support the “party’s nominee” without amending the Constitution; regardless of how the voters voted.
Back in January when the Supreme Court first agreed to hear the appeal, I documented in an article how the high court’s decision could pave the way for ending the Electoral College. In the piece, I quoted Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold when she said how she was looking to this case as a way to make it possible for Colorado to give their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote even if another candidate won the state. She said, in part, that the court should “protect the rights of the state to enforce their laws and defend the rights of Americans to choose the U.S. president.” (Emphasis mine. And did you notice that she said Americans, not Coloradans?)
Enter the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), a legal agreement between several states and the District of Columbia that permits participating states to give their Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote, regardless of who won the popular vote in those states. There are currently 16 jurisdictions representing 196 electoral votes where laws have been passed to join the compact. Once enough states join to reach 270 electoral votes, it will be enacted.
Despite the implication by the Supreme Court that the Constitution protects the Electoral College, yesterday’s ruling served to protect political parties, not the will of the voters. This is clearly evident in Kagan’s opinion when she referenced “allowing a state to enforce an elector’s pledge.”
Here’s something else to chew on: there are no provisions in the Constitution or federal law requiring an elector to vote for the winner of their state. Based on the rationale supporting yesterday’s ruling, if a state has enacted a law to join the NPVIC, their electoral votes can legally go to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of who the voters in the state selected.
Regardless of the hype from both sides of the political aisle following yesterday’s ruling, the Supreme Court didn’t do a thing to protect the integrity of our elections. In fact, they may have ensured their destruction.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.