Virginia delegate wins court case to become 'unbound'
A delegate in Virginia who was bound to vote for Donald Trump at the GOP convention has won a partial victory in court that will allow him to vote for whomever he chooses.
The narrow ruling has given hope to #NeverTrumpers, but the scope of the decision hardly justifies it.
An anti-Donald Trump delegate to the Republican National Committee convention won a small legal victory Monday he hopes will provide a boost to longshot efforts at derailing the billionaire businessman from formally clinching the GOP presidential nomination.
But the ruling issued Monday by a federal judge in Richmond is limited in scope. It means that delegates cannot be obligated to vote in a winner-takes-all fashion, as stated in an obscure portion of Virginia election law. But the law in question was so obscure that Republicans had already decided to allocate delegates in a proportional fashion, based on the results of the state's March 1 primary, which Trump won. The ruling leaves that unchanged.
Still, Virginia delegate Carroll Correll Jr., who filed the lawsuit last month, counted the ruling as a symbolic victory.
"Requiring delegates to vote for any candidate is unconstitutional and today's announcement is a blow to Trump's efforts," said Correll.
Correll's lawsuit was backed by Citizens in Charge Foundation, which is part of a diverse group of Trump opponents still trying to find a way for the party to pick another candidate at next week's convention.
But Trump supporters scoffed at the notion that the ruling will have any noticeable effect.
"It will have no impact on the Virginia delegation," said John Fredericks, a Trump supporter who fought the lawsuit. "Nor will it have any long term ramification for Donald Trump's quest for the nomination on the first ballot."
At issue in the lawsuit was a previously ignored part of Virginia election law that mandates delegates to the national convention to vote in a winner-take-all fashion, instead of proportionally as Republicans had planned. Judge Robert E. Payne said Monday the winner-take-all portion of the state law was unconstitutional and can't be enforced.
The ruling means that Republicans can vote how they have always intended to — with the state's 49 delegates bound to vote proportionally based on the March 1 results — without fear of criminal prosecution. Though the changes of prosecution were always remote: state officials said before the ruling they had no plans to prosecute anyone for how they voted at the GOP convention.
In essence, this was a nuisance suit that never should have been brought. With no chance of prosecution and the law already saying delegates could vote the way they choose, Correll was just kicking up dirt hoping to obscure the issues.
The anti-Trump crowd keeps plugging away, but it's as though they're living in an alternate universe. The Trump train left the station long ago, while #NeverTrumpers think they can change history to bring it back.
Not. Going. To. Happen.
The convention could still turn out to be a mess. But it won't be because there is a serious challenge to Trump's nomination.