DENVER (CBS4) – The United States Supreme Court will hear a Colorado case that could change the way the Electoral College selects the next president. The nation’s highest court will review the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Baca v. Colorado Department of State.
The Tenth Circuit decided that Colorado cannot remove a faithless presidential elector for violating state law, even if they try to cast their electoral college ballot for a candidate who did not win the majority vote in Colorado. Colorado law requires the electors to cast their ballots in accordance with the majority vote.
In 2016, the Colorado Secretary of State replaced Michael Baca as a state presidential elector after he failed to vote for Hillary Clinton as he had pledged. The non-profit Equal Citizens launched a legal challenge, arguing that the framers of the Constitution intended for presidential electors to exercise independent judgement in casting their votes.
In a 2-1 vote, the Tenth Circuit ruled that the removal of an elector for voting for someone other than the winner of the statewide popular vote was unconstitutional under the 12th amendment.
Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Attorney General Phil Weiser have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
“Having the U.S. Supreme Court resolve this critical question about the foundation of our democracy before the 2020 election will avoid the uncertainty, chaos, and confusion that would arise in the wake of post-election litigation,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “As this case proceeds, I will vigorously defend the people of Colorado before the Court and work hard to ensure that the Electoral College ballots of electors reflect the will of voters in Colorado.”
The Colorado Secretary of State’s office said the ruling impedes the state’s ability to enforce the law and has the potential to undermine voters across the nation.
“Unelected and unaccountable presidential electors should not be allowed to decide the presidential election without regard to voters’ choices and state law,” said Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold. “When Americans vote in the Presidential election, we are exercising our most fundamental right – the right to self-governance. We hope the U.S. Supreme Court will protect the rights of states to enforce their laws and defend the rights of Americans to choose the U.S. President.”
In Nov., 22 states signed an amicus brief in support of Colorado’s petition for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. The states that signed onto the brief request are Alaska, California, Illinois, Mississippi, Maryland, Nevada, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Tennessee, and Rhode Island.