FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, April 10, 2020
PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg is pleased to announce that a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from 44 states and the District of Columbia have joined two United States Supreme Court cases which will decide whether presidential electors must honor state laws when casting their electoral college ballots for President of the United States.
A group of electors in Colorado and Washington, led by Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig, have challenged state laws in those two states that require electors to cast their electoral college ballots for the presidential candidate who won the state’s popular vote.
The United States Supreme Court will determine the validity of the state laws in Colorado v. Baca and Chiafalo v. Washington.
“The historical record of the Constitutional Convention, and United States Supreme Court cases since, are clear that electoral college balloting is meant to reflect the vote of the state,” said Ravnsborg. “Electoral college balloting could become a free-for-all if electors cannot be required to honor the statewide popular vote.”
Electors in South Dakota and several other states currently operate on an honor system, but South Dakota may have a need to implement rules binding electors to the state’s popular vote in the future.
The United States Supreme Court postponed the April 28 argument in the cases due to coronavirus concerns.
“With or without argument, I am confident the United States Supreme Court will decide this case before the upcoming presidential election,” Ravnsborg stated. “It is important that voters know their vote for president will count and everyone knows the status of the law before voting begins in the general election.”
Joining Attorney General Ravnsborg in the amicus brief are the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the brief is available on the website of the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the State of South Dakota and provides legal advice to agencies, boards, and commissions of the State as well as representing the State in state and federal court. The Office of Attorney General also handles prosecutions, felony criminal appeals, civil matters, consumer protection issues, and issues formal opinions interpreting statutes for agencies of the state. Visit www.atg.sd.gov to learn more.
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CONTACT: Tim Bormann, Chief of Staff, (605) 773-3215