(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
It’s conventional wisdom that the U.S. Constitution has a few significant flaws. Those flaws aren’t fatal, one hopes, but they are congenital and chronic:
Neither Congress nor the president has the capacity to govern alone, but either can refuse to compromise, and prevent the other from governing. If the system is thought to be indestructible, the temptation to take stands becomes overwhelming. Filibusters, shutdowns, and executive orders multiply. The veneration of the Constitution becomes its undoing.
As we all know ‘round here, one of those congenital flaws that was intended to appease America’s Slave-owning class and to dilute the voting power of individuals in “Free” states is the existence of the Electoral College. In our last election, and one or 2 fairly recent ones before that, it turned the popular vote winner (by close to 3 Million votes) into an impotent witness to the transfer of power on Inauguration Day.
The quite logical urge to rid ourselves of this constitutional quirk was sparked once again, and in a state that has gone Democratic the last several years, it’s a pair of Republican hard-liners in Colorado who have taken a legal axe to that knotty quirk:
Last November, from his downtown Colorado Springs home, local math educator Bob Nemanich, one of the 538 members of the Electoral College, helped launch a movement to try to change the way the United States chooses its president.
Nearly a year later, he is still fighting.
Nemanich is named as a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed by national election law expert, Harvard Law School professor and attorney Lawrence Lessig, who briefly ran for president in 2016 before dropping out ahead of the Democratic primary. The suit claims Colorado’s Republican secretary of state, Wayne Williams, intimidated Nemanich and two other electors into voting for Hillary Clinton during the official Electoral College vote on Dec. 19 at the state Capitol in Denver. The suit seeks $1 in damages, plus legal fees.
But the lawsuit is bigger than that.
The legal action, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, aims to answer a major question once and for all, before the 2020 presidential election: Do members of the Electoral College have a constitutional ability to vote for whomever they want?
The vote of Colorado’s Electors was clouded by a rabid Republican from El Paso County (home of many rabid R’s including Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, and the Meth-ingesting homophobe Ted Haggard whose mega-church was rocked by his actions).
Could this suit end the EC as we know it?
That day at the Capitol in Denver, the scene was dramatic.
Williams presented the state’s nine electors with a new oath requiring them to pledge they would cast their ballots for the winner of Colorado’s popular vote and making it easier to charge them with a crime if they didn’t. But when it came time to vote, Micheal Baca wrote in the name of Ohio Gov. John Kasich instead, and Williams immediately stripped him of his duties and replaced him with someone else.
Afterwards, Williams asked the state’s Republican attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, to investigate Micheal Baca for a potential crime, calling him a “faithless elector” who violated an oath.
The case is messy, but the end result could force the issue enough so that the EC would end up in the dust bin of history.
If the U.S. Supreme Court eventually hears this case and decides that members of the Electoral College can vote their consciences, imagine what might happen. Following a presidential election there would essentially be another election waged for the votes of the 538 national electors. Williams, commenting on the lawsuit, made the same point.
“If electors are free agents, then voters would want to screen who those [electors] are in a very different way,” he said. Campaigns to become a national elector would be enormous.
Maybe then, Nemanich says, people would be outraged, and move to obliterate the Electoral College.