Court Battles

Sotomayor recuses herself from case on ‘faithless electors’

Greg Nash

Justice Sonia Sotomayor is recusing herself from a Supreme Court case over the issue of “faithless electors” — Electoral College representatives who disregard the will of voters in presidential elections — because of her friendship with one of the parties involved in the lawsuit.

The clerk of the court informed the parties of the move on Tuesday.

“The Justice believes that her impartiality might reasonably be questioned due to her friendship with respondent Polly Baca,” the clerk, Scott Harris, wrote in a brief letter. “The initial conflict check conducted in Justice Sotomayor’s Chambers did not identify this potential conflict.”

Baca is one of the lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit that sought to block the enforcement of a Colorado law that allows faithless electors to be removed from their positions.

In January, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and consolidated it with a similar one that originated in Washington State. On Tuesday, the court announced that the two lawsuits would no longer be consolidated and Sotomayor would still participate in the case out of Washington.

The relationship between Baca, a former Democratic state legislator, and Sotomayor is well-documented. According to the Denver Post, Baca sat in the front row during the justice’s Senate confirmation hearings in 2009 and called her shortly after confirmation vote.

“We’re all excited about your nomination and confirmation,” Baca said on the call. “We wanted you to know how proud and honored we are.”

“Polly, you know how much I love you, and how much I love your senators, who both voted for me,” Sotomayor responded.

Colorado is appealing a circuit court ruling that sided with the electors. The two cases will allow the Supreme Court to decide whether it is constitutional for states to impose laws on their Electoral College delegates.

Oral arguments will be held on April 28.

Tags Sonia Sotomayor

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