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Daily Skimm: Faithless Electors, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Patrick Mahomes

A set of microphones stand outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on July 6, 2020
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Jul 7, 2020

No More Going Rogue

The Story

The Supreme Court isn't here for faithless electors.

Faithless what now?

Electors. The term is given to members of the Electoral College who go rogue and cast a vote that is different from the winner of their state's popular vote. Currently, only 32 states (and DC) have rules against faithless electors. Yesterday, in a unanimous decision, the Supremes ruled that states can require electors to support the winner of their popular vote. And those who don't could be punished with a fine or removed from their post.

Has that happened before?

Back in 2016, 10 electors went against their state's popular vote, the most in more than a century. Three electors in Washington state were fined, and one in Colorado was removed. They sued, arguing they had a Constitutional right to vote for whoever they wanted without being punished. After the lower courts were split on the issue, the case made its way to the Supremes. Now, SCOTUS gave the final word, with Justice Elena Kagan saying electors "are not free agents."

Will this affect the election?

It could. The Electoral College decides who the president will be, regardless of who won the national popular vote. Reminder: there are 538 electors, with each state getting as many electors as it has members of Congress (plus three for DC). And whichever candidate wins the majority of the votes in the Electoral College (think: at least 270) gets to live in the White House for four years. In 2016, President Trump won the Electoral College by 77 votes, so the 10 rogue votes weren't a game changer. But if the vote had been closer (like in 2000), faithless electors could have overhauled the results.

What are people saying?

The Supremes worried about bribery and chaos in the upcoming election if rogue electors were allowed. Some referenced "Hamilton," "Veep," and even "Lord of the Rings." Supporters were relieved, reportedly calling it "a win for orderly elections." But critics argued that the ruling misinterpreted the Constitution.


With less than four months until Election Day and the pandemic potentially changing the way we vote, yesterday's ruling is seen as providing a little more certainty for the process.

And Also...This

What was put on hold…

The Dakota Access Pipeline. Yesterday, a federal judge ordered it to shut down as it goes through an environmental review. The pipeline carries hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude per day through four states. That includes running underneath Lake Oahe in North Dakota and South Dakota, just outside tribal land. For years, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmental groups had tried to stop its construction, claiming it violated their sovereign rights and could have negative environmental effects (like contaminating drinking water). Yesterday, the judge handed them a win, shutting down the pipeline while the project is under review – which could take more than a year. It was a blow to President Trump, who had pushed for the pipeline back in 2017 to create US jobs.

  • Not everyone's on board: The oil company that owns the pipeline warned that shutting it down would make states lose billions of dollars in revenue and tax dollars. And that the decision would lead to an increased environmental risk anyway, because oil would be transferred by train instead. It plans to appeal.

What people are talking about...

The Amy Cooper case. Yesterday, Manhattan's district attorney charged her with filing a false report. Cooper – a White woman – made headlines in May for calling the police on Christian Cooper – a Black man – who had asked her to leash her dog in Central Park. She said she would tell police an African American man was threatening her – and was filmed apparently going through with it. Now the DA's reminding her you're not supposed to call the police and lie to them. And wants to see her in court in October.

Who's saying 'visas and pencils down'…

ICE. Yesterday, it announced guidelines for international students who are studying in the US. Amid COVID-19, foreign students will not be able to stay in the US for the fall semester if the school they attend is online-only. People with student visas will either have to transfer to schools that offer at least some in-person lessons or leave the country. Those who violate the rule "may face immigration consequences."

...Oh and speaking of students, many apparently still have to pay full tuition despite classes moving online.

What's saying 'on to the next one'…

Uber. Yesterday, the ride-hailing and food delivery company agreed to buy Postmates in a $2.65 billion deal. This comes a month after Uber's potential deal with Grubhub fell through. Now, Uber Eats and Postmates will work together to better address the growing demand for delivery amid COVID-19.

Who's having a good 2020…

Super Bowl MVP QB Patrick Mahomes.

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