Virginia Republican delegate Carroll Correll Jr. went to court to determine if an obscure Virginia election law violates his First Amendment rights. The law in question carries criminal penalties for delegates who don’t vote the way their party instructed them.
In the Virginia primary election, Donald Trump earned 17 of the 49 delegates Virginia has in total. Correll is one of the 17 delegates assigned to vote for Trump at the Republican convention in two weeks. Correll does not want to vote for Trump.
Correll and his attorney, David Rivkin Jr, argued alone against state Attorney General Mark Herring and Donald Trump’s legal team, asking the court to block the portion of the law criminalizing his vote. Also present were eight other delegates who don’t have a problem with the law.
“My goal from the very beginning was to vote my conscience. I cannot vote for Donald Trump. I think he’s disqualified himself in more ways than one,” Correll told reporters after the hearing. “I think a favorable ruling would help make it clear to Virginia delegates the long arm of the law has no place in private associations such as the Republican part and how business is conducted.”
In an interview with The Washington Post, Correll added, “The national spotlight is on this convention. Take a minute and ask yourself if we can do a lot better than Mr. Trump? We can do a lot better than Mr. Trump.”
Representatives of the state attorney general’s office testified there has not been a single prosecution under the law to date, adding Correll should have known he could be required to vote for Trump when he signed up to represent the Republican Party at the convention.
“This person was selected to go to the convention and he can’t come back individually and rewrite the rules simple because he himself has a moral reservation,” CBS political expert Bob Holsworth stated after the hearing.
Correll believes his legal challenge, which is funded by Citizens in Charge Foundation, will have “ramifications and reverberations” across the country in other states with laws similar to the one on the books in Virginia.
Presiding Judge Robert E. Payne told Correll, “This (case) may be the first railroad station on your journey.”
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