10th Circuit Sides With ‘Faithless Electors’ in Colorado 2016 Election Case

August 22, 2019 by Dan McCue
10th Circuit Sides With ‘Faithless Electors’ in Colorado 2016 Election Case

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that three presidential electors from Colorado were unconstitutionally forced to cast their Electoral College votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The ruling by a divided 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for so-called “faithless electors” who cast their Electoral College votes for someone other than the presidential candidate chosen by a majority of voters in their state.

The three Democratic electors at the center of the case, Michael and Polly Baca and Robert Nemanich, were all required to vote for Hillary Clinton after she carried Colorado in the 2016 contests, but the three wanted to vote instead for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

That plan was part of an ultimately fruitless national effort to convince Republican electors to vote for Kasich and deny Donald Trump the presidency.

According to court documents, Michael Baca followed through on his intentions and voted for Kasich, but was immediately replaced by another elector who cast a vote for Clinton. After that, Polly Baca and Nemanich voted for Clinton against their wishes.

All three later sued the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Although the lawsuit was initially dismissed on the grounds the three electors lacked standing, the 10th Circuit partially reversed that decision this week, holding that Michael Baca had legal grounds for challenging his dismissal.

“Unlike the president’s right to remove subordinate officers under his executive power and duty to take care that the laws and Constitution are faithfully executed, the states have no authority over the electors’ performance of their federal function to select the president and vice president of the United States,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Carolyn McHugh, writing for the majority.

As a result, she wrote, “the state’s removal of Mr. Baca and nullification of his vote were unconstitutional.”

Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law professor and attorney for the electors said in a statement that the “incredibly thoughtful decision” could substantially advance efforts to reform the Electoral College.

“We know Electoral College contests are going to be closer in the future than they have been in the past; and as they get closer and closer, even a small number of electors could change the results of an election,” Lessig said.

“Whether you think that’s a good system or not, we believe it is critical to resolve it before it would decide an election,” he added.

Lessig is the founder of Equal Citizen, a nonprofit that says its mission is “to fix democracy by establishing truly equal citizenship.

He was assisted in the Colorado case by his colleague at Equal Citizens, Jason Harrow, and Denver attorney Jason Wesoky.

The Colorado decision creates a direct conflict with a recent decision of the Washington Supreme Court. Lessig said he plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case this time in the hope that it will issue an opinion prior to the 2020 election.

Wayne Williams, a Republican, was Colorado Secretary of State when Michael Baca was dismissed as an elector. Williams’ successor, Jena Griswold, a Democrat, said Wednesday that she finds the ruling concerning.

“This court decision takes power from Colorado voters and sets a dangerous precedent,” she said. “Our nation stands on the principle of one person, one vote. We are reviewing this decision with our attorneys, and will vigorously protect Colorado voters.”

A+
a-
  • 10th Circuit
  • Colorado
  • court ruling
  • Electoral College
  • faithless electors
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    June 14, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    GOP Wins Fourth Straight Congressional Baseball Game

    WASHINGTON — The Republicans soundly defeated their Democratic colleagues in the annual Congressional Baseball Game Wednesday night, the final score... Read More

    WASHINGTON — The Republicans soundly defeated their Democratic colleagues in the annual Congressional Baseball Game Wednesday night, the final score being 31-11. The number that really mattered, however, was the record $2.2 million the game raised for local charities. Next up is the 16th annual Congressional... Read More

    June 14, 2024
    by Anna Claire Miller
    Senate GOP Blocks Nationwide Access to IVF Treatment

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked legislation that would have established a national right to in vitro fertilization, as... Read More

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked legislation that would have established a national right to in vitro fertilization, as the chamber’s Democrats continued an effort to put their GOP colleagues on the defensive ahead of the November elections. The 48-47 vote on the Right to... Read More

    Senate Confirms Energy Regulators, Extending Biden's Grip on Panel That Backs Renewable Energy

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's grip on a key federal energy commission will last beyond his first term, giving a boost... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's grip on a key federal energy commission will last beyond his first term, giving a boost to the Democrat's push for renewable energy regardless of the election results in November. The Senate ensured that political reality as lawmakers approved three new members of the... Read More

    Illinois Hit With Cicada Chaos. This Is What It's Like to See, Hear and Feel Billions of Bugs

    RIVERWOODS, Ill. (AP) — The ground had seemed to undulate at night, alive with bugs. Crawling cicada nymphs, striving to... Read More

    RIVERWOODS, Ill. (AP) — The ground had seemed to undulate at night, alive with bugs. Crawling cicada nymphs, striving to get higher after 17 years underground, marched en masse toward and up trees, pausing to shed their skin and emerge as adults. And then the fun... Read More

    AI Startup Perplexity Wants to Upend Search Business. News Outlet Forbes Says It's Ripping Them Off

    The artificial intelligence startup Perplexity AI has raised tens of millions of dollars from the likes of Jeff Bezos and... Read More

    The artificial intelligence startup Perplexity AI has raised tens of millions of dollars from the likes of Jeff Bezos and other prominent tech investors for its mission to rival Google in the business of searching for information. But its AI-driven search chatbot is already facing challenges... Read More

    June 13, 2024
    by Anna Claire Miller
    Plastic Pollution Problem Continues to Grow Despite Efforts to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

    WASHINGTON — Plastic is an integral part of our lives today and is also one of the biggest contributors to... Read More

    WASHINGTON — Plastic is an integral part of our lives today and is also one of the biggest contributors to global waste. Since the introduction of plastic products in the 1900s, the integration, manufacturing and presence of these products in our society has soared.  Today, we... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top