Just months before the presidential election, the U.S. Supreme Court is telling electors in the Electoral College who determine the ultimate winner that they can’t go rogue and not vote for the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote.
The decision essentially blocks a handful of would be independent-minded members from deciding the next president.
State officials have said these so-called faithless lectors threaten the integrity of American democracy by undermining the will of the electorate and opening the door to corruption.
But the plaintiffs in the case said the Constitution requires them to exercise independent judgment to prevent unfit candidates from taking office.
The justices on Monday unanimously ruled in favor of Washington state and Colorado, which had imposed $1000 dollar penalties on several faithless electors who defied pledges in 2016 to vote for the winner of their states’ popular vote, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Republican President Donald Trump defeated Clinton by a margin of 304 to 227 Electoral College votes despite losing the popular vote nationally by about 3 million votes.
In 2016, 10 of the 538 electors cast ballots for someone other than their state’s popular vote winner, an unusually high number that could have changed the outcome of five of the 58 previous U.S. presidential elections.