Left loses key court fight over Electoral College

  • 14 December 2016
  • NormanL
Left loses key court fight over Electoral College

The handful of Democratic presidential electors seeking to invalidate state laws binding them to vote for the winner of their state's popular vote lost a federal court decision in Colorado that could derail their entire effort:

U.S. District Judge Wiley Y. Daniel denied a temporary restraining order and an injunction to stop Colorado from enforcing a state law that says electors must vote for the presidential candidate who won the state.

The injunction and restraining order were part of a landmark lawsuit, brought by two Colorado electors, both Democrats, that seeks to declare the state law unconstitutional. The electors are former Democratic Sen. Polly Baca and Colorado Springs math teacher Bob Nemanich.

Their lawyer Jason Wesoky told the judge that the law unfairly “coerces” the Electoral College members to vote for Hillary Clinton simply because she won more votes than Donald Trump in Colorado. The electors, together with about eight others from around the country, believe they should have the ability to vote their consciences — they want an alternative to Donald Trump — as part of a larger plan to persuade enough of them to do the same and keep Trump from the White House.

On the other side was an assistant state solicitor, Grant Sullivan, arguing on behalf of Colorado, and Chris Murray, a lawyer representing Trump and the state Republican Party.

The three-hour court hearing wound through the pages of the nation’s founding documents, through obscure court decisions in multiple states over the years and through those decisions not so obscure, such as the 2000 Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore. It hit on Western themes like “High Noon,” the time of day electors are scheduled to cast their votes on Dec. 19, and dredged up the more controversial aspects of the 2016 presidential campaign, such as FBI director James Comey’s disclosures about Clinton’s emails.

“Part of me thinks this is really a political stunt” to prevent Trump from becoming president, the judge said at one point. “I bet if Hillary Clinton had actually prevailed in the national vote … we wouldn’t be here,” he said at another.

It is a "stunt," that has taken on more ominous implications in recent days. While the plaintiffs say they will fight on, they are quickly running out of time to do so.

But we do take some heart that the opposing sides spent hours going through the founding documents to discern what the Electoral College is, and why it was created. We suggest everyone do the same, because we are confident the left's campaign against the venerable institution will not end after the Electors cast their ballots.

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