Thursday, July 14, 2016

Trump and the Delegates

A court ruling gives an impetus to unbinding GOP convention-goers.
A federal judge on Monday issued a permanent injunction that overturns a Virginia law requiring that delegates to this month’s party conventions vote based on the results of the primaries. The thunderclap ruling is right on the legal and constitutional merits, but the larger political question is whether Republicans should adopt a conscience rule to unbind the delegates in Cleveland next week.
The case was brought by Beau Correll, a Ted Cruz supporter who doesn’t want to vote for Donald Trump as Virginia law says he must. Federal Judge Robert Payne’s opinion makes a persuasive case that the Virginia law—and by implication any state’s law—that binds delegates violates First Amendment rights of free speech and association. Political parties are private institutions that exist to advance their common beliefs and to nominate candidates without state interference, and delegates must be unconstrained in their choices.
“First Amendment rights for parties and their adherents are particularly strong in the context of the nomination and selection of the President and Vice President,” Judge Payne writes in Correll v. Herring.
The ruling applies only to Virginia’s delegates to both party conventions, but it may give an impetus to Republicans in other states who are pushing for a “conscience clause” that would unbind all delegates. That question will be put this week before the Republican National Convention’s 112-member rules committee. Merely one-quarter of the rules committee, or 28 members, can send a minority report to the floor for a debate that would be followed by an up-or-down vote by the full convention.
How a vote to unbind would shake out is anyone’s guess, but there is nothing illegitimate about it. ...
Read the rest of this WSJ op-ed HERE.

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