Some framers of the Structure appeared to ponder that electors would use unbiased judgment, the Supreme Court docket has mentioned. “Probably it was supposed that the electors would train an inexpensive independence and truthful judgment within the number of the chief govt,” Chief Justice Melville Fuller wrote in an 1892 Supreme Court decision. Over time, he added, “the unique expectation could also be mentioned to have been annoyed.”
Alexander Hamilton described his expectation within the Federalist Papers. “Males chosen by the individuals for the particular objective” of choosing the president, he wrote, “can be most certainly to own the knowledge and discernment requisite to such difficult investigations.”
Justice Kagan mentioned remarks like that one didn’t set up the that means of the Structure.
“Even assuming different framers shared that outlook, it might not be sufficient,” she wrote. “Whether or not by alternative or accident, the framers didn’t cut back their ideas about electors’ discretion to the printed web page.”
Choose McHugh of the 10th Circuit mentioned the textual content of the Structure additionally helps elector independence. The phrases of the related provisions, together with “elector,” “vote” and “poll,” she wrote, “have a standard theme: All of them suggest the correct to select or voice a person opinion.”
Justice Kagan rejected that evaluation.
“These phrases needn’t all the time connote unbiased alternative,” she wrote. “Suppose an individual all the time votes in the best way his partner, or pastor, or union tells him to. We’d query his judgment, however we’d haven’t any drawback saying that he ‘votes’ or fills in a ‘poll.’”
“For that matter, some elections give the voter no actual alternative as a result of there is just one identify on a poll (think about an previous Soviet election, or perhaps a downballot race on this nation),” she wrote. “But if the individual within the voting sales space goes by means of the motions, we think about him to have voted.”
Justice Clarence Thomas, joined partially by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, agreed with the bulk’s backside line however didn’t undertake its reasoning. He mentioned he would have relied on common rules of federalism to succeed in primarily the identical end result.