Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Attorney General Phil Weiser have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court decision they say “threatens the stability of our nation,” according to a Wednesday news release from Griswold’s office.
Like most states, Colorado law requires its presidential electors to follow the will of its voters when casting their Electoral College ballots in the presidential election.
However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit “set a dangerous precedent” when it ruled in August that Colorado cannot remove presidential electors if they fail to cast their ballots in accordance with state law, Griswold said.
“Unelected and unaccountable presidential electors should not be allowed to decide the presidential election without regard to voters’ choices and state law,” Griswold said in the news release.
This case started in December 2016 when two Colorado electors expressed their intent to cast their electoral ballots for someone other than Hillary Clinton, who won the most votes in the state, according to the release.
The electors filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court prior to the Electoral College vote, claiming the state lacked the constitutional authority to bind the votes of electors. After their request was denied, the electors sought an emergency injunction from the 10th Circuit, which also denied their request, according to the release.
On the day Colorado electors cast their ballots, the two electors voted for Clinton, the release states. However, another elector was removed when he attempted to cast his ballot for Republican John Kasich.
All three electors later filed a second suit in federal district court, which concluded that Colorado may lawfully bind its presidential electors to the winner of the most votes in the state. The electors then appealed the decision to the 10th Circuit, which reversed two prior U.S. District Court decisions holding that electors must follow Colorado’s law requiring them to cast their electoral ballots for the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in the state’s general election.
The 10th Circuit also reversed a state court decision that presidential electors are state officials who lack standing to challenge Colorado law, according to the release.
“This ruling threatens to take the solemn duty of electing the president and vice president away from the people of Colorado and put it in the hands of a few unaccountable presidential electors,” Weiser said. “Our nation needs the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve this critical question about the foundation of our constitutional democracy before the 2020 election to avoid confusion.”