|Baca v. Colorado Department of State|
|United States District Court for the District of Colorado|
|Full case name||Micheal Baca, Polly Baca, and Robert Nemanich v. Colorado Department of State|
|Judge sitting||Wiley Y. Daniel|
Nina Y. Wang (magistrate)
|Counsel for plaintiff(s)||Lawrence Lessig|
|Plaintiff(s)||Micheal Baca |
|Defendant(s)||Colorado Department of State|
Baca v. Colorado Department of State (No. 1:2017-cv-01937) 2019 is a challenge to a Colorado law compelling an elector to vote for the presidential candidate who received the most votes in the state. It is a Twelfth Amendment case.
Both plaintiff and defendant anticipate that the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court. The case is central to Lawrence Lessig's Equal Electors movement, a component of the organization Equal Citizens that Lessig founded.
Facts and prior history
On December 19, 2016, Wayne W. Williams, the Secretary of State of Colorado, replaced Michael Baca (no relation to Polly Baca) as a Colorado presidential elector after he failed to vote for Hillary Clinton as he had pledged. The complaint claims, "The Constitution does not expressly or implicitly give the states any power to restrict Electors’ freedom beyond the 12th Amendment's single limitation." Prior to the Electoral College vote, the electors had sought an injunction against Colorado law that would allow the Secretary of State to remove an elector attempting to vote contrary to his or her pledge. In Baca v. Hickenlooper the injunction was denied, and an injunction was also denied on appeal to the Tenth Circuit.
Latest developments and next steps
On April 10, 2018, Judge Wiley Y. Daniel of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado granted the motion to dismiss the case on the part of Colorado.
The electors appealed to the Tenth Circuit and oral arguments were held on January 24, 2019. Both sides filed a joint motion seeking the court to render a decision on the merits of the case. On August 20, 2019, a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit voted 2-1 in favor of the appellants, finding that removal of an elector for voting for someone other than the winner of the statewide popular vote was unconstitutional under the 12th amendment. The opinion was written by circuit judge Carolyn Baldwin McHugh and joined by circuit judge Jerome Holmes. A dissent by circuit judge Mary Beck Briscoe did not take a position on the merits of the case but instead argued the case was moot because the court could not provide relief to the appellant. The court did rule that only Michael Baca had standing and officially remanded the case back to the district court.
- "Amended Complaint" (PDF). S.D,D.C. September 20, 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
- "Nemanich v Williams Docket 01". District of Colorado. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
- Hutchins, Corey (August 16, 2017). "Electoral College members file voter 'intimidation' lawsuit against Colorado's secretary of state". Colorado Independent.
- Hutchins, Corey (October 3, 2017). "Colorado Electoral College Lawsuit: A deal for nation's highest court to hear a big case faster?". Colorado Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
- Young, Robin (November 28, 2016). "Colorado Elector Urges Others In Electoral College Not To Vote For Trump". WBUR. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
- LAKANA (20 December 2016). "One Colorado elector fails to vote for Clinton, is replaced". KRDO.
- "Both Sides in Colorado "Disobedient Electors" Case Tell the Tenth Circuit Not to Duck the Issue | Ballot Access News". Ballot Access News. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
- "The Colorado Sun". Retrieved August 21, 2019.
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