Larry Lessig told Politico that his group, Electors Trust, has been approached by 20 Republican electors for free legal advice on whether or not they can be Faithless Electors and vote for someone other than Donald Trump to be President of the United States of America. Media report that this is half the number of Faithless Electors needed to thwart an electoral college vote for Trump.
So, how likely is he to be telling the truth?
Is there a conflict of interest? Larry Lessig is a former Democrat presidential contender.
For a start, Politico introduces him as not just a Harvard Law professor. University lecturers in the United States of America usually veer to the left of the political spectrum. Barack Obama went to Harvard, before becoming a professor at the University of Chicago. Larry Lessig himself is certainly on the left, having been a Democratic nominee for President at one stage. That stage, being this year, 2016, where he withdrew before the Primaries.
What are the chances of mass faithless electors joining hands?
There have been 157 Faithless Electors in the history of the American nation, a rather small number overall. None has ever been able to change the outcome of an election, and, generally, they did it because their conscience could not countenance a candidate. Three of those 157 abstained from voting at all.
As for what Democrats want Trump voters to do:
'Only 82 electors in history have voted against their state’s popular vote for personal reasons. Another 71 electors have changed their votes after the death of a candidate. None of those instances have ever changed the outcome of an election, according to data compiled by the nonprofit group FairVote. ' Jonathan Easley and Ben Kamisar, 'Electoral College voters under intense pressure', The Hill, 13 December 2016.
However, while Democrats are horrified by Donald Trump, white men, white women, and Republicans, all got out to vote for him. Belief in a party's best interest, and survival, increase generally when a person joins that party's official ranks. Republican electors are just that, Republicans. Even Ted Cruz eventually endorsed Donald Trump, his political career depended on it. Any Republican who votes against a candidate who gained such majorities as Trump did among Republican voters, is committing career suicide. The party has united around their candidate, and voting against the herd when the American people have endorsed their candidate, would be viewed as treason of the highest order.
Conscientious objectors also tend to act as they do in order to follow their conscience with integrity. A Republican whip operation found only one faithless elector who won't be voting for Trump, Texan, Chris Suprun. Suprun, like past conscientious objectors, has publically made his stance known. Suprun lists Megaphone Strategies, a PR firm hounding Republicans to vote against their orders, for queries about his decision. Megaphone Strategies is associated with CNN host, Van Jones, who famously called the last election a 'whitelash'. If their conscience and integrity is so important to them, and if Republicans can't force them to change their vote, why would they lie to the whip operation?
Do the electors not have their own attorneys?
As an attorney, myself, this is the most striking thing. In life changing decisions, when people seek legal advice, they tend to approach their own trusted attorney, assured of his confidentiality, and past assistance. An attorney is like a hairdresser, you tend to keep the one you have. That attorney might then approach experts if there is something they cannot handle on their own. The law on Faithless Electors is rather clear: if a state has no rules against their changing their votes, then they may vote for someone other than the candidate they have chosen. There is no complex legal issue at work.
Larry Lessig doesn't substantiate his claim of 20 Republican electors. How did they contact him? Did he verify it was them and not a prank or activist disinformation attempt. He, himself, has been a liberal activist for decades.
Why would they approach Lessig?
Finally, with the only known Faithless Elector choosing the Van Jones organisation, why on heaven and Earth would the Republican electors chose some obscure law professor with political ambitions to advise them? All twenty of them? Even factoring in the rule of small numbers, that is an oddity, especially as they allegedly asked for free legal advice in an instance where even the average man on the street could tell them the law on the matter, and where their own attorneys certainly could. Republican electors don't tend to be the sort of people who are living from hand to mouth and can't afford a consultation with their own attorney.
Furthermore, one would expect such Republicans to gather around Megaphone Strategies if they were seeking to consolidate.
What if they were to succeed?
If the Faithless Electors succeeded only slightly, then the House of Representatives would elect the president: almost certainly Donald Trump. If Hillary Clinton won the electoral college vote, the Faithless Electors would go from being traitors to being successful traitors. Republicans would destroy their lives. With such a pressure upon the Faithless Electors, it seems unlikely they would risk not voting for Trump.
The electoral college was not created to prevent a tyrant from taking power. It was created because America is a federation of once independent states, which didn't want more populous states taking away their voice in elections. Even if Trump were to become a dictator, or all the Left Wing campaign presents him as, the Electoral College was not given the power to overthrow him or people like those they fear him to be. It is simply an accident of history, which has stuck through the years.
In conclusion, it is very unlikely Lessig is telling the truth. Perhaps 20 Republicans will change their vote, but it is unlikely they would have all approached him.
Friday, 30 December 2016
Larry Lessig is lying about potentially flipping 20 Donald Trump GOP electoral college voters.
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