Virginia law binding delegates to vote for Trump violates First Amendment, federal judge rules
A federal judge on Monday enjoined a Virginia law that requires delegates to vote on the first ballot for the winner of the state primaries—which would require GOP delegates to vote for Donald Trump.
U.S. District Judge Robert Payne of Richmond, Virginia, agreed with lawyer and GOP delegate Carroll “Beau” Correll that the law imposing criminal penalties for noncompliance violated Correll’s First Amendment rights of political speech and association, report the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, NBC News, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Washington Post and the Huffington Post. Correll supports U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Payne said (PDF) that the Virginia law conflicts with Republican Party Rule 16, which allocates delegates based on a proportional vote. Payne did not reach a decision on whether two other Republican Party rules allow for “conscience voting” at the convention, saying that theory is not ripe for decision.
Correll tells NBC about 20 states have laws binding delegates to candidates. He asserted the Trump campaign is “morbidly humiliated” by the decision. “They put all their chips on the table and they lost all of them—if I were them I’d go hide in a closet in Trump Tower,” he said.
The Trump campaign saw a victory in portions of the ruling finding Rule 16 is in effect and questioning the conscience-voting theory. Two groups are trying to modify the convention rules to free delegates from required votes.