US Supreme Court sets April 28 date for oral arguments in Colorado's 'faithless electors' case

Posted at 2:19 PM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-21 16:19:59-05

DENVER – The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Colorado and Washington’s “faithless elector” cases on Tuesday, April 28, the nation’s high court announced Friday.

Oral arguments in the two consolidated cases, Colorado Department of State v. Baca and Chiafalo v. Washington, are set for one hour. Attorneys for Colorado and Micheal Baca have both said they hope a decision in the case is handed down by June so there is clarity before November’s election.

Colorado asked the Supreme Court in October to review the Baca case after a federal appeals court last August ruled in a 2-1 decision that the state’s presidential electors do not have to follow state rules and vote for the presidential candidate who received the most votes in the state.

Twenty-two other states signed friend of the court briefs in November to support Colorado. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Secretary of State Jena Griswold – both Democrats – have said they hoped the court rules in Colorado’s favor.

The case stems from an ordeal during the 2016 election , when three of the state’s nine electors attempted to vote for John Kasich instead of Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote in Colorado that year.

Micheal Baca , Polly Baca and Robert Nemanich had all threatened to vote for Kasich as part of a “Hamilton electors” movement across the country whose supporters argued the U.S. Constitution did not bind state electors to vote for a certain candidate. They had pushed for the Electoral College to put someone in the White House other than Donald Trump, who eventually won 270 electoral votes on Election Day.

Then-Secretary of State Wayne Williams threatened to remove and replace all three if they decided to do so. But only Micheal Baca carried through with the threat, and he was removed and replaced as an elector on the day Colorado certified its votes.

Polly Baca and Nemanich – after several last-minute court decisions – ended up writing Clinton’s name on the ballot. The three fought the ordeal in court.

In August, the 10th Circuit ruled that the U.S. Constitution contains no language that allows a state to remove an elector or toss out his or her vote.

Colorado entered into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact last year.

If states that have 270 total electoral votes all join the compact, each state would award all of its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote for president. Griswold supported that measure, saying it upheld the “one person, one vote” principal.

Twenty-eight states have laws that bind electors to vote for whichever candidate wins the popular vote in that state. Griswold and Weiser explained that in other states that do not have such laws, electors generally follow the unspoken rules.