The Colorado Attorney General and Secretary of State filed a brief Wednesday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold state laws that require presidential electors to vote for the winner of their state’s popular vote.
Attorney General Phil Weiser and Jena Griswold have said the authority to enforce such laws is necessary to protect public trust in the validity of elections. They urge the Supreme Court to decide the case before the 2020 presidential election. “Just as elections must continue in both times of tranquility and crisis, Americans equally must have the assurance that our voices will be heard and our votes counted in presidential elections,” said a statement from Weiser’s office.
In 2019, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Baca v. Colorado Department of State that states can’t remove electors for refusing to follow laws that bind electors to follow their state’s popular vote. In 2016, Micheal Baca did not cast his vote for Hillary Clinton, who won Colorado’s popular vote. Then-Secretary of State Wayne Williams threw out Baca’s ballot and removed him as an elector. Two other electors said the threat of prosecution for not following Colorado’s law chilled them from voting for a candidate other than Clinton. The decision overturned the federal district court’s decision, which also ruled the electors don’t have standing to sue because they are state officials when they act as electors.
In October 2019, Weiser and Griswold asked the Supreme Court to review the case, and the court accepted the petition. Oral arguments are currently scheduled for April 28, and according to the brief, have not been rescheduled as a result of the novel coronavirus.
In question is whether state laws binding electors violate the Constitution’s Article 2 and the 12th Amendment, which establish the electoral voting process. The brief argues states have exclusive power to appoint and oversee electors, and also that the 12th Amendment doesn’t give electors absolute freedom when they vote.
Weiser said taking away states’ authority to enforce laws binding electors could lead to corruption in electoral voting. “Without this State oversight, electors would be free to violate their oath, take a bribe, or cast a ballot for a constitutionally ineligible candidate,” said Weiser’s statement. “Such an outcome would not only shake the foundations of our democracy, it would deprive the States’ voters of their voice in the selection of the President.”