Lawyers for reality show star-turned-president elect Donald Trump are taking on members of the Electoral College in three different courtrooms this week, part of a broader campaign to snuff out resistance before next Monday’s vote.
Long derided as a formality and an undemocratic constitutional fossil, the Electoral College is now the last obstacle in the way of Trump enshrining Russian influence, installing Christofascist government, and giving the fossil fuel industry the keys to Washington.
Amid revelations that Moscow influenced the election, a growing number of ‘Hamilton Electors‘ is uncomfortable awarding the presidency to Trump. Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig claims that a substantial number of Republican electors is also ready to become ‘faithless.’
But 29 states, and the District of Columbia, have laws that punish ‘faithless’ electors.
Passed with the best of intentions, such legislation contradicts the very purpose of the Electoral College, which is to stop popular demagogues and foreign influence from taking over the republic. That’s why these laws are widely believed to be unconstitutional. But until now, they have never been tested in court.
The Trump campaign sent lawyers to Colorado this week to successfully oppose Polly Baca and Robert Nemanich in state court. A Denver judge ruled that she could not overturn the statute on behalf of the ‘Hamilton Electors,’ a group of electors now making a last-ditch effort to stop Trump by challenging the laws in their states that bind electors.
In a California federal court filing, Trump lawyer Brian Selden argues that the electors shouldn’t be allowed to hurt his client’s chances of becoming president.
In the filing, Selden notes that California’s own leaders have an interest in defending against the suit, but the Trump campaign should be able to intervene as well because of his “distinct interests.”
“Among them (1) ensuring other states’ laws are respected, (2) ensuring that the Electoral College process is honored in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and (3) ensuring that Mr. Trump is officially elected to the presidency,” Selden writes. “The state officials cannot represent these interests.”
Thirty-seven electors must become faithless in order to deny the presidency to Donald Trump. Even then, they will only send the matter to the House of Representatives, which might either install Trump anyway or else compromise on a different Republican, but will certainly not make Hillary Clinton president.
But so far, all but one of the Hamilton Electors is a Democrat, and all the legal action is taking place in states that Clinton won. Only the outspoken Chris Suprun of Texas has crossed party lines to take a public stand.
Privately, Matthew Rosza reports at Salon, Trump is threatening “political reprisals” against faithless electors to keep them in line. “It’s all political, basically,” an anonymous elector tells him. “If Trump becomes the president, he’s going to be able to put pressure on the state parties and they won’t be involved anymore.”
In the likely event that Trump gets sworn in on January 20th, we can expect this to be the pattern of his term in office: brute force, arm-twisting, and endless litigation.
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