- Court: United States Supreme Court
- Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
- Date Filed: July 6, 2020
- Case #: 19-465
- Judge(s)/Court Below: KAGAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and GINSBURG, BREYER, ALITO, SOTOMAYOR, GORSUCH, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which GORSUCH, J., joined as to Part II.
- Full Text Opinion
During the 2016 presidential election, Petitioners, three members of the Washington Electoral College breached their pledge to endorse Hilary Clinton when the members failed to vote for the candidate state voters had. As a result, Washington fined the Petitioners $1000. Confronting the fines in state court, Petitioners argued that the Constitution provides Electoral College members freedom to vote as they please. The Washington Superior Court turned down the Petitioner's argument. The Washington State Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court’s judgment. On appeal, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed, holding that neither history nor text provides backing for the Petitioner's claim. The Supreme Court reasoned that Article II does not “expressly prohibit States from taking away presidential electors’ voting discretion as Washington does.” And that “’[l]ong settled and established practice’ may have ‘great weight in a proper interpretation of constitutional provisions.’” quoting The Pocket Veto Case, 279 U. S. 655, 689 (1929). State election laws have developed to ensure that electors vote along the lines of the state’s citizens, as electors were used “simply to register the will of the appointing power in respect of a particular candidate.” McPherson v. Blacker, 146 U.S. 1, 27 (1892). Therefore, Washington’s enforcement of “an elector’s pledge to support his party’s nominee – and the state voters’ choice – for President” was constitutional. AFFIRMED.