A federal judge has thrown out the Virginia law binding delegates to specific candidates, preventing the state from punishing those who fail to vote for their pledged candidate -- as some want to do in the case of Donald Trump.
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Virginia GOP delegate Carroll Correll filed a class-action lawsuit on June 24, in an attempt to get out of voting for Trump at the Republican National Convention, challenging the state law that binds the delegates in the winner-take-all state to vote for the primary winner.
In a 14-page complaint, Correll and his lawyers wrote that "Correll believes that Donald Trump is unfit to serve as President of the United States" and that voting for Trump at the convention "would therefore violate Correll’s conscience."
It's questionable what effect the rule will have at the Republican National Convention, or on Trump's presumptive nomination.
That's because it only strikes down a section of state law that would have required Correll to vote for Trump -- not the state party and Republican National Convention rules that still require him to do so. The Republican Party of Virginia submitted a plan to the RNC to bind its delegates proportionally, based on the results of the state's primary, which Donald Trump won with 34.7 percent of the vote on March 1.
Correll, a Cruz supporter, was designated for Trump under the state's scheme for allocating delegate votes.
The judge struck down the winner-take-all law, but he did not offer a ruling on state-party or RNC rules.
RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer has said this will leave the process intact and the RNC released a statement today to that effect.
Decision in Correll case upholds right of political parties to set rules for national convention delegate selection and allocation. 1/2— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) July 11, 2016
It affirms 1st Amend right 2 require delegates be bound to primary results, & makes clear delegates r bound under national party rules. 2/2— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) July 11, 2016
One of Correll's lawyers sees things differently.
"The party rules are sufficiently flexible to allow the delegates, after some back and forth in the delegation, to vote their conscience" without the force of state law in place, said David Rivkin, of the firm BakerHostetler, one of the lawyers who represented Correll in the case.
Whether that's the case is a question of party rules and convention mechanics--something being sorted out by delegates on the convention rules committee in Cleveland this week.
Rivkin also argued that the decision contradicts Donald Trump's claims that it would be "illegal" for delegates to vote against him at the convention.
The ruling comes as GOP anti-Trump delegates have been plotting to unbind the delegates.