CLEVELAND, Ohio — Those Republicans hoping to vanquish Donald Trump from the nomination process on the convention floor next week received good news from a federal court in Virginia Monday.
According to a statement from the organization known as Delegates Unbound, a verdict was reached on the right of delegates to vote for whichever presidential candidate they wish at the convention as opposed to casting their ballots that follow the state primary results.Judge Robert E. Payne ruled in favor of Virginia Republican delegate Beau Correll, who sued the Commonwealth to allow Virginia delegates at the GOP convention to cast their votes for the candidate of their choice on the first ballot instead of the winner of the Republican state primary, Donald Trump.
Trump, who won a plurality in Virginia’s primary with 34 percent of the vote last March, could not find delegates in the state to win the majority of slots at the state party convention back in April. Those posts were won by delegates supporting Ted Cruz.
“The right of delegates to vote their conscience won today,” declared Delegates Unbound co-founder Eric O’Keefe. “The Trump campaign joined forces with the Democratic party to strip delegates of their authority over the presidential nomination process, in opposition to the entirety of Republican Party history and the Constitution.”
Trump Campaign Attorney and former FEC Chairman Don McGahn, however, saw the court ruling differently. McGhan issued the following statement:
“The court has confirmed what we have said all along: Rule 16 is in effect and thus delegates, including Correll, are bound to vote in accordance with the election results. The court did not buy what Curly Haugland was selling, and noted that his testimony has no support in the rule’s text and was contradicted by his own book, Unbound. This case puts his unbound theory to rest, and is a fatal blow to the Anti-Trump agitators.”
Judge Payne ruled in favor of the first two counts of the five count amended complaint from Correll.
According to Correll’s lawsuit, Count I alleged, his First Amendment right to free political speech, “more specifically his individual right to ‘vote for a presidential nominee at a party’s nominating convention,’ ‘’by stripping delegates’ to the 2016 Republican National Convention ‘of their freedom to vote their conscience, or to vote consistent with party rules.’”
Count II alleges that “Correll’s First Amendment rights of free association, again ‘by stripping delegates’ to the 2016 Republican National Convention ‘of their freedom to vote their conscience, or to vote consistent with party rules.’”
The vice chairman of Trump’s Virginia campaign, John Fredericks, filed to intervene in the lawsuit by Correll but to no avail. However, GOP delegates looking for a nominee other than Trump have other obstacles to face.
The RNC convention rules are not governed by outside court decisions. Delegates at the GOP convention are looking for alternative ways to allow a floor vote to let members “vote their conscience” on the first ballot of the nomination.
Anti-Trump GOP groups appear confident that enough delegates want him to go away, but there is little talk about who the delegates would unify behind and who the party would ultimately support.
“I think the next step is who’s the who. Now that we have the funding and now that we are talking to the delegates, the next step is who’s the who,” Free The Delegates DC Lobbyist Jack Burkman told The Daily Caller Monday. “We need to begin to advertise that person in the Cleveland media market. I think you’re going to see that very soon.”
“Keep your eyes on the emergence of possible popular dark horses. I think something could emerge that could surprise the media. I think they’re watching Ted Cruz. I don’t think there’s much chance Ted Cruz will get involved…I think Donald will have a big surprise waiting for him in Cleveland,” Burkman said.