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Thread: 'Faithless elector': Supreme Court will hear case that could change how presidents are chosen

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    'Faithless elector': Supreme Court will hear case that could change how presidents are chosen

    'Faithless elector': Supreme Court will hear case that could change how presidents are chosen

    WASHINGTON ó The Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up an issue that could change a key element of the system America uses to elect its president, with a decision likely in the spring just as the campaign heats up.

    The answer to the question could be a decisive one: Are the electors who cast the actual Electoral College ballots for president and vice president required to follow the results of the popular vote in their states? Or are they free to vote as they wish?

    A decision that they are free agents could give a single elector, or a small group of them, the power to decide the outcome of a presidential election if the popular vote results in an apparent Electoral College tie or is close.

    "It's not hard to imagine how a single 'faithless elector,' voting differently than his or her state did, could swing a close presidential election," said Mark Murray, NBC News senior political editor.

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    BAM!!!!


    How are the neo-feudalists on the Bench going to get out of this one? Actually rule in accordance with the specific language of the Constitution and you risk delegitimizing the Electoral College. Rule to preserve the status quo, and entrench minority rule, and your "Originalist" bullshit gets just that much more laughable.

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    I think an originalist would be forced to conclude that electors are meant to make their own decision on who to vote for.

    Really, if it were simply a matter of carrying the result of the state's popular ballot, why send a human being? They could just write the results on a piece of paper and send that. They used humans because the humans were meant to make decisions.

    On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heartís desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
    -H. L. Mencken

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    Here's Hamilton:
    The Federalist Papers : No. 68

    To the People of the State of New York:

    THE mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received the slightest mark of approbation from its opponents. The most plausible of these, who has appeared in print, has even deigned to admit that the election of the President is pretty well guarded.1 I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not to affirm, that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent. It unites in an eminent degree all the advantages, the union of which was to be wished for.

    It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.

    It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

    It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

    Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the electors. Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their detached situation, already taken notice of, afford a satisfactory prospect of their continuing so, to the conclusion of it. The business of corruption, when it is to embrace so considerable a number of men, requires time as well as means. Nor would it be found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they would be over thirteen States, in any combinations founded upon motives, which though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet be of a nature to mislead them from their duty.

    Another and no less important desideratum was, that the Executive should be independent for his continuance in office on all but the people themselves. He might otherwise be tempted to sacrifice his duty to his complaisance for those whose favor was necessary to the duration of his official consequence. This advantage will also be secured, by making his re-election to depend on a special body of representatives, deputed by the society for the single purpose of making the important choice.

    All these advantages will happily combine in the plan devised by the convention; which is, that the people of each State shall choose a number of persons as electors, equal to the number of senators and representatives of such State in the national government, who shall assemble within the State, and vote for some fit person as President. Their votes, thus given, are to be transmitted to the seat of the national government, and the person who may happen to have a majority of the whole number of votes will be the President. But as a majority of the votes might not always happen to centre in one man, and as it might be unsafe to permit less than a majority to be conclusive, it is provided that, in such a contingency, the House of Representatives shall select out of the candidates who shall have the five highest number of votes, the man who in their opinion may be best qualified for the office.

    The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. And this will be thought no inconsiderable recommendation of the Constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the political heresy of the poet who says: "For forms of government let fools contest That which is best administered is best,'' yet we may safely pronounce, that the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.

    The Vice-President is to be chosen in the same manner with the President; with this difference, that the Senate is to do, in respect to the former, what is to be done by the House of Representatives, in respect to the latter.

    The appointment of an extraordinary person, as Vice-President, has been objected to as superfluous, if not mischievous. It has been alleged, that it would have been preferable to have authorized the Senate to elect out of their own body an officer answering that description. But two considerations seem to justify the ideas of the convention in this respect. One is, that to secure at all times the possibility of a definite resolution of the body, it is necessary that the President should have only a casting vote. And to take the senator of any State from his seat as senator, to place him in that of President of the Senate, would be to exchange, in regard to the State from which he came, a constant for a contingent vote. The other consideration is, that as the Vice-President may occasionally become a substitute for the President, in the supreme executive magistracy, all the reasons which recommend the mode of election prescribed for the one, apply with great if not with equal force to the manner of appointing the other. It is remarkable that in this, as in most other instances, the objection which is made would lie against the constitution of this State. We have a Lieutenant-Governor, chosen by the people at large, who presides in the Senate, and is the constitutional substitute for the Governor, in casualties similar to those which would authorize the Vice-President to exercise the authorities and discharge the duties of the President.

    PUBLIUS.

    On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heartís desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
    -H. L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Jingo View Post
    BAM!!!!


    How are the neo-feudalists on the Bench going to get out of this one? Actually rule in accordance with the specific language of the Constitution and you risk delegitimizing the Electoral College. Rule to preserve the status quo, and entrench minority rule, and your "Originalist" bullshit gets just that much more laughable.
    "Minority rule..."

    Every single President has been elected by a minority. But please, go on with your pipe dream of thinking the popular vote will ensure your political goals. Your political prediction skills are right up there with Krugman's economic prediction skills.
    "What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

    link

    Time will tell.

  6. Likes Bob Loblaw 3.0, daveman liked this post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norm dePlume View Post
    I think an originalist would be forced to conclude that electors are meant to make their own decision on who to vote for.

    Really, if it were simply a matter of carrying the result of the state's popular ballot, why send a human being? They could just write the results on a piece of paper and send that.
    Really? When the Constitution was written votes were allowed to be written? (No they were not, that was the point of assembling representatives in the same building).

    Quote Originally Posted by Norm dePlume View Post
    They used humans because the humans were meant to make decisions.
    If that's true you should be able to find someone who helped write the Constitution saying this.

    On edit:

    Looks like you did post that - let me have a read.

    After reading the Hamilton comments, I'm not sure he is definitive in his words. I think he's wishy-washy. That said, it does seem to be unclear on whether States can force Electors to vote according to the State's vote. Changing that would change electoral practice in a very big way. Imagine the furor if the Electors did not want to vote for Obama and McCain won instead.

    Are you sure that's a good idea?
    Last edited by scott; Friday, January 17th, 2020 at 6:09 PM.
    "What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

    link

    Time will tell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scott View Post
    Really? When the Constitution was written votes were allowed to be written? (No they were not, that was the point of assembling representatives in the same building).
    What the fuck are you even asking? Of course votes were allowed to be written. Do you think every election was a voice vote? Ballots were on paper you fucking moron.

    On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heartís desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
    -H. L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norm dePlume View Post
    What the fuck are you even asking? Of course votes were allowed to be written. Do you think every election was a voice vote? Ballots were on paper you fucking moron.
    I misspoke - I mean submitted in writing in lieu of being in person. Regardless, the overall point is whether Hamilton's view is correct.

    Secondly, would this change be a good thing? Hamilton seems to trust the ethics and incorruptibility of the Electors. I'm not sure that is correct.
    "What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

    link

    Time will tell.

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    I don't think the electoral college is a good idea. But, as I understand it, the court is not supposed to concern itself with whether or not something is a good idea. They are only supposed to interpret the law (including the ultimate law of the land, aka the Constitution). Also, the originalists are supposed to concern themselves with what the original writers were thinking. In this case, that makes Hamilton's Federalist Paper applicable even though it isn't a legal document. So any of the Supremes that stick to originalism are pretty much gonna have to conclude that electors should be free to make their own choices.

    And also, the electoral college as it is currently implemented does not work the way the founders intended it, so when people make the argument that changing it goes against the wisdom of the founders, I don't buy that argument. We wouldn't be changing the founders' version of it, we'd be changing an already changed, later version of it.

    On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heartís desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
    -H. L. Mencken

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    If you want to have another civil war this would be the way to accomplish it.

    A leftist dream.

    Mark
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