Supreme Court rules states can enforce presidential elector pledges

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Becket Law VP and Executive Director Montse Alvarado breaks down the case out of Montana.

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld state laws requiring those chosen for the Electoral College to back the popular winner in their state's presidential race, a rebuke of a group of so-called "faithless" presidential electors in Washington and Colorado who sued after they were sanctioned for voting contrary to pledges they took before becoming electors.

The court ruled 9-0 in a pair of cases that states can enforce pledges requiring that electors of their states follow the will of the voters when casting their electoral ballots.

The cases come after a group of Democratic electors that called themselves the "Hamilton Electors" voted for moderate Republicans instead of Hillary Clinton in 2016, in an unsuccessful effort to convince Republican electors to vote for somebody besides President Trump.

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"Among the devices States have long used to achieve their object are pledge laws, designed to impress on electors their role as agents of others," Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the court's opinion. "That direction accords with the Constitution—as well as with the trust of a Nation that here, We the People rule.”

Though many voters don't realize it, when Americans cast their ballots in presidential elections they are actually voting for "electors" who later case the official ballots that decide the presidential election. They almost always rubber-stamp the popular vote winner in their state, but at times have voted for a different candidate, as the Hamilton Electors did in 2016.

The case Kagan wrote the opinion for is called Chiafalo v. State of Washington. In that case, the justices upheld the ruling of the Washington Supreme Court. In an unsigned opinion, citing the reasoning of the Chiafalo opinion, the justices overturned the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling that states could not enforce elector pledges, in a case named Colorado Department of State v. Baca.

Kagan added: "The Constitution’s text and the Nation’s history both support allowing a State to enforce an elector’s pledge to support his party’s nominee—and the state voters’ choice—for President."

Fox News' Bill Mears contributed to this report.

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