Moye White LLP is pleased to announce partners Paul R. Franke, William F. Jones and Eric B. Liebman and associates Joyce C. Williams and Allison M. Hester assisted the state of Colorado in securing a win at the Supreme Court in Colorado Department of State v. Micheal Baca. The Court ruled that states can require Electoral College voters to back the winner of their state’s popular vote, confirming the constitutionality of faithless elector laws.
The team authored an amicus brief on behalf of Colorado Democrats, who requested the firm’s assistance in March 2020. The ruling could have a major impact on November’s presidential election.
“Our team is so proud to have played a small part in our country’s democratic process by assisting the state in this Supreme Court case to preserve our electoral laws,” said Jones, who led the team. “It’s a unique and rare experience to interact with cases at the Supreme Court level. We’re thankful to the Colorado Democrats for inviting us to participate.
The suit, which was reviewed by the justices along with a similar case from Washington state – Chiafalo v. Washington, was originally filed by Micheal Baca. Baca is a Colorado Electoral College voter who refused to back Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 and was replaced before he could cast his vote for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich. He, along with the Washington electors, argued that the enforcement of laws requiring electors to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote was unconstitutional. The case was argued in May and the ruling was released on July 6.
Both the Colorado and Washington cases arrived at the Supreme Court after lower courts were divided on the issue, with courts in Colorado and Washington ultimately coming down on opposite sides. The federal appeals court in Colorado sided with Baca, while the Washington Supreme Court sided with the state and upheld the fines.
Justice Elena Kagan, who authored the opinion of the court, wrote that “nothing in the Constitution expressly prohibits states from taking away presidential electors’ voting discretion.” Kagan continued, stating that the Constitution gives states “broad power over electors” and “electors themselves no rights.”
The Colorado Republican amicus brief was authored by Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.