The Electors Trust

As Politico reported last night, we’ve launched The Electors Trust, a project of EqualCitizens.US.

The objective of the Electors Trust is to give electors free and confidential legal services, to defend their constitutional right “to exercise,” as Justice Jackson put it in Ray v. Blair (1952), “an independent and nonpartisan judgment as to the [person] best qualified for the Nation’s highest offices.” Many states have laws that purport to limit federal electors. As Ray v. Blair makes clear, any such state power is extraordinarily limited.

Mark Lemley, a partner at Durie Tangri and a professor at Stanford (and an old friend) has volunteered to head the legal project. Electors will be represented by Durie Tangri, and no one, outside of the firm, will have any knowledge about who those electors are. With their permission, the electors can allow others to know that they are considering a vote of conscience. But that information will not include either their identity or their state. Our primary objective is to provide a safe and confidential legal context in which electors can seek advice and support, and depending on the facts, an opportunity to litigate to defend their freedom.

This project joins an active field of others doing similar work. Our aim is to complement, not replace, that work. Our hope is also to raise funds that can be used to help support their work, and other work being considered. Hamilton Electors have been working to recruit electors to support a “reasonable Republican” as an alternative to Donald Trump. The Hamilton Defenders have been pulling together an extraordinary range of pro bono legal and organizational talent to defend the freedom of electors in the states. MakeDemocracyMatter.org gives citizens a way to connect with electors. We add to that work the ability to guarantee elector anonymity, and we hope, substantial financial backing to defend their freedom.

We don’t have a particular agenda for electors—beyond giving them the legal assurance they might need to be able to act according to their conscience. I have described my own view of the ethics of the decision they have to make. But this project does not proselytize. Having lived the anti-corruption fight for more than a decade, and having grown up in Trump-country, I have respect for, and at least some understanding of, the people I disagree with. Nothing in our work aims to denigrate or to sow any hatred of them or anyone.

But so long as our Constitution vests in these citizens this extraordinary power, we believe they should be supported as they seek in good faith to exercise it. The Electors Trust will support them in that.

We have no idea if there are 3 or 30 who will accept this offer. The chance that there is one is reason enough to try. I am grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to pull this effort together so quickly. If you’re an elector, you can reach our attorneys at ElectorsTrust@durietangri.com.