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Supreme Court Hangs Up After 'Faithless Electors' Case

Over 6 days, justices heard 10 cases by phone
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 13, 2020 1:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Supreme Court has hung up the phone. The justices on Wednesday heard their last scheduled cases in that manner, having heard arguments in 10 cases by telephone over six days as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Audio of the arguments was broadcast live, a first for the court. The cases the justices heard had been previously postponed because of the virus. Additional previously scheduled cases have been postponed to the fall. The court traditionally finishes its work by late June and then takes a break from hearing arguments until October. The justices have not said whether they will return to the courtroom in October. The court's final day of arguments dealt with whether presidential electors are bound to support popular-vote winners in their states or can opt for someone else, the AP reports.

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So-called faithless electors have not been critical to the outcome of a presidential election, but that could change in a contest with a razor-thin margin. A focus of the questions was whether states can replace electors who decide to vote for someone other than the state popular vote winner. If they can't, "it would lead to chaos," Justice Samuel Alito said, "where the popular vote is close and changing just a few votes would alter the outcome." Justice Clarence Thomas asked, "Can a state remove someone, for example, who openly solicits payments for his or her vote?" The issue arose in lawsuits filed by three Hillary Clinton electors in Washington state and one in Colorado who refused to vote for her despite her popular vote win in both states; those in Washington were fined $1,000, while the Colorado elector was removed. (On Tuesday, the court heard arguments about President Trump's tax returns.)


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