As the delegate revolt movement accelerates, a member of the powerful GOP Rules Committee has introduced a proposal that could stop it cold. Solomon Yue, an Oregon member of the committee, proposed an amendment to Rule 12 that would bar rules amendments from taking effect until 2020.
The move seems to be directed at Colorado delegate and Rules Committee member Kendal Unruh, founder of Free the Delegates. She has advocated a “conscience amendment” that would make it clear to convention delegates that they are not bound to the candidate who won their state’s primary and are free to vote their consciences. Her movement is highly organized and has supporters in a number of states.
The amendment would have to be passed by a majority of the 112-member rules committee; a majority of the delegates at the convention would then have to approve it. But attendees at the 2012 convention saw that John Boehner passed Rule 16 by saying “The ayes have it,” when it sure sounded like they didn’t.
If Yue’s amendment does pass, then the conscience amendment would not take effect until the 2020 convention. This could well have the effect of making Donald Trump’s presumptive nomination an official one.
However, Curley Haugland, delegate and national committeeman of North Dakota, has been saying for some time that the delegates are already unbound. In a to the Republican National Committee on March 11th, he explained that only once in history delegates were actually bound by the rules:
In 1976, the Ford campaign, afraid of losing “pledged” delegates to Reagan forces and having the strength of delegate numbers needed, forced the adoption of the “Justice Resolution” which amended the convention rules to bind the delegates to cast their convention votes according to the results of binding primaries.
He explained further, that “the 1980 convention rescinded the Justice Resolution entirely restoring the prohibition of binding.” He adds that the Legal Counsel’s office, specifically Tom Josefiak, opined this:
One of the important rules changes over the last 50 years has been the unit rule prohibited…that change was made so that an individual delegate can vote his or her conscience. (transcript, RNC Standing Committee on the Rules, January 19, 2006 pp 93-94)
That rule, says Curly, is embodied today in current Rule 38, the Unit Rule.
Although 20 states have passed laws that purport to bind delegates, these statutes can’t be legally enforced. When Republican delegates arrive in Cleveland to select their party’s nominee, they should recognize that they are bound only by their consciences.
State laws that purport to bind delegates can’t be enforced without violating the First Amendment. A political party is a private association whose members join together to further their shared beliefs through electoral politics, and they have a right to choose their representatives.
He also cites SCOTUS decisions, Cousins v. Wigoda (1975): “The States themselves have no constitutionally mandated role in the great task of the . . . selection of Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates,” and Democratic Party v. Wisconsin ex rel. LaFollette (1980).
The catch-22 of Rule 16
Paradoxically, Rule 16 of the Party Rules appears to bind the delegates, in contradiction of Rule 38:
…If any delegate bound by these rules, state party rule or state law to vote for a presidential candidate at the national convention demonstrates support under Rule 40 for any person other than the candidate to whom he or she is bound, such support shall not be recognized.
Mr. Rivkin explains that Rule 16 “expires at the convention’s start.” Mr. Haugland says the same, referring to the Preamble of the The Rules:
~ BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the following be and hereby are adopted as The Rules of the Republican Party, composed of the rules for the election and government of the Republican National Committee until the next national convention…
After research it conducted, CNBC : “in 2012, 42 rules were adopted and they were divided into three sections. The first two sections (rules 1-25) were about how the RNC would operate after the convention. The third section (rules 26-42) were the rules that solely dealt with the convention and are called the “standing rules” for the convention. These rules are only in effect for the five days the convention is running.
Unsurprisingly, Mr. Trump disagrees: he told NBC’s Meet the Press this when asked about whether delegates at the convention could stop him:
“I don’t believe that. I think that’s the press. No. 1, they can’t do it legally. No. 2, I worked for one year, and we won all those delegates,” Trump said.
Is it unfair to choose another candidate over Mr. Trump?
At first glance it may seem to be; but in fact, Mr. Trump won only 44% of the primary voters; 56% voted for others. Such results hardly make Trump “The People’s Choice.” And pollster Michael Harrington that he believes Trump benefitted from 12 million Democrat votes in the open primaries and actually got “about 3.3 million Republican votes.”
The discrepancy between Trump’s being awarded a majority of delegates by the states, though he received less than a majority of votes is the result of non-proportional allocation of delegates in states like South Carolina, where Trump got only 32.5% of the votes but was awarded all 50 of SC’s delegates.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly complained the system is “rigged” and “crooked”; we’d have to agree: it was rigged – in a way that benefitted him.
Trump temperamentally unfit for office
Mr. Trump has afflicted many Republicans with doubts about his ability to overcome Hillary Clinton and about his fitness for office. He’s made gratuitous statements that will provide ammunition for Democrats to hurt his own campaign, and to hurt down-ballot candidates at a time when only five lost Senate seats would hand the gavel to Chuck Schumer. Twenty-four are up for grabs vs. ten for the Dems.
Donald Trump has given delegates many reasons to shrink from nominating him, from his a crowd to “knock the crap out of” protestors and the frankly dumb remark that women who had abortions should be punished, to these reckless blurts:
Within a short period, Trump blasted two highly respected Hispanics: popular New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, whom he accused of poor performance during a period when she wasn’t even in office. She’s also the head of the Republican Governors Association. His reason? She refused to endorse him.
Trump criticized Judge Curiel because he was appointed to the federal bench by Barack Obama. But he was originally appointed to state superior court by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who tweeted:
“Judge Curiel is an American hero who stood up to the Mexican cartels. I was proud to appoint him when I was Gov.”
“‘Valdez, who is a top lieutenant in the Arellano Felix drug trafficking cartel, told Trevino that he planned to have . . . Curiel assassinated and that he had requested and received permission from the leaders of the Arellano cartel to have Curiel murdered,’ said the allegations.”
Are delegates bound no matter what’s revealed about their candidate? What if Hillary Clinton was indicted before the Democratic convention; would it make sense if her bound delegates still had to vote for her? What if GOP delegates found that Trump went back on everything he said during the primary?
Is Trump the candidate he pretended to be?
Trump supporters, if they’re paying attention, can see their guy walking back all the positions they liked him for.
For example, he said on December 7th he would bar all Muslims from entering. In NH on June 13th, he said when he’s elected he’d bar immigration from countries with proven terrorism against the West. Saturday, he changed his position a second time, saying: “I don’t want people coming in from certain countries,” he told the Daily Mail. “I don’t want people coming in from the terror countries…I don’t want them, unless they’re very, very strongly vetted.”
He also changed his position on illegal immigrants. On July 29, 2015, he CNN’s Dana Bash he’d deport all 11 million and rapidly bring back the good ones. “Legal status,” Trump suggested. “We got to move ’em out, we’re going to move ’em back in if they’re really good people.”
When Wolf Blitzer asked him at the February 25th debate, “Senator Cruz… He calls your plan amnesty. Is it?” Trump immediately pivoted saying, “It may not be a very quick process, but I think that’s very fair…. They’re going to get in line with other people.”
He didn’t mention that line contains 4.4 million Mexicans seeking to come here legally – and they’ve been waiting up to 12 years, maybe because he had no idea how long the line actually is. Much of this in conflict with his excellent policy paper, which was most likely written by Sen. Jeff Sessions aide Stephen Miller, who now works for Trump. However, DT never mentions the paper, to this writer’s knowledge.
Miller the Daily Caller on February 23rd, a week before Super Tuesday, precisely how they would deport the 11 million, how many new border agents would have to be hired, how “Americans for the first time in their lives will wake up in a country where their immigration laws are enforced,” he said. Sessions then endorsed Trump, casting aside Ted Cruz, with whom he’d worked to block the Gang of 8 bill.
On June 25, 2016, when asked in Scotland if he’d have mass deportations, Trump said: “No, I would not call it mass deportations.” He gushed that he’d have the “biggest heart of anybody.” “We are going to get rid of a lot of bad dudes who are here,” he said, munching fish and chips, “that I can tell you.”
Curly Haugland has said the public has been misinformed, that the primaries are just “beauty contests”; the delegates actually choose the nominee. Their duty is to choose the best candidate for the party and the most likely candidate to win the general election. Mr. Trump is neither. One can only wonder why the RNC would choose to prevent them from doing that.