Lewis Morris / July 7, 2020

SCOTUS Slams Door on Unfaithful Electors

A unanimous High Court says a state’s electors must honor the will of its voters.

It’s refreshing to know that the U.S. Supreme Court is still, on occasion, capable of good jurisprudence. In a unanimous decision announced Monday, the High Court ruled that states have the right to remove or penalize faithless electors who vote against the will of the voting majority in presidential elections.

The case in question, Chiafalo v. Washington, concerned three Democrat electors in Washington state who switched their pledged votes in the 2016 election for Hillary Clinton to Colin Powell in hopes of persuading Republican electors to also switch their votes to prevent Donald Trump from winning the Electoral College. In doing so, the electors failed to honor their pledge to vote for the winner of their state’s popular vote, prompting the state to fine each of them $1,000. The electors challenged the fines on the grounds that state law restricting their Electoral College vote was unconstitutional.

Another case tied to Chiafalo concerned an elector in Colorado who also switched his vote against the popular-vote winner of that state, Clinton, in favor of then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich. In this instance, the High Court reversed an appeals-court decision in favor of the elector.

The electors in Chiafalo, represented by Lawrence Lessig, a leftist activist and hardened opponent of the Electoral College, maintained that the Founders intended for electors to use their discretion in choosing the best person for president rather than honoring the will of the voters of their respective states. In this particular case, Lessig argued that Washington state did not have the authority to penalize electors who did not adhere to the will of the voters because the Constitution does not expressly state that electors must honor popular will. Lessig argued that because the framers did not expressly demand faithful electors, they implied that the electors may use their discretion in submitting their votes.

In writing the Court’s opinion, Justice Elena Kagan stated, “Nothing in the Constitution expressly prohibits States from taking away presidential electors’ voting discretion as Washington does… The Electors’ constitutional claim has neither text nor history on its side. Article II and the Twelfth Amendment give States broad power over electors, and give electors themselves no rights.”

In theory, the unanimous ruling should be the last word on the matter. Coming just four months before what is sure to be a bitter and hard-fought presidential election, Chiafalo leaves no wiggle room for electors when it comes to honoring their pledge to their respective states. In doing so, it would also seem to block another illegitimate pathway to power being pursued by those on the Left: the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

The driving force behind the compact is for electors to break their constitutional pledge to honor the popular vote of the states in favor of the winner of the national popular vote. Currently, 16 states plus the District of Columbia, accounting for 196 electoral votes, have signed the compact, which would pledge their votes to the winner of the national popular vote, even if it means ignoring the will of the people of their own state. The compact goes into effect when enough states join it to total 270 electoral votes, the number needed to win the presidency.

Chiafalo puts a stake right through the heart of the compact because it recognizes that states have the power to compel their electors to honor their pledge or face removal and/or punitive measures. Faithless electors who are removed would have their votes nullified. While we can’t underestimate the creativity of the Left in subverting the Constitution, we can take solace in knowing that the Supreme Court got this one right, and unanimously so.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2022 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.