A federal judge struck down an obscure element of Virginia’s presidential primary laws Monday, handing a symbolic victory to a Republican National Convention delegate who has refused to support Donald Trump. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne permanently barred Virginia from enforcing a law that requires a winner-take-all system in which the first-place finisher of the GOP primary would technically be entitled to all 49 of the state’s delegates. The statute conflicts with the Republican Party’s primary rules, which allocate Virginia’s delegates proportionally based on the primary results. Carroll “Beau” Correll, a Winchester attorney who supported Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, argued that the state law violates his constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of association by requiring him and all other delegates to vote for Trump on the convention’s first ballot.
Payne agreed that Correll, a delegate representing the 10th Congressional District, shouldn’t face criminal penalties for political activity at the convention, where anti-Trump forces are planning a longshot attempt to stop the controversial businessman from being chosen as the presidential nominee. But the judge did not accept Correll’s more sweeping theory that all delegates are free to support whomever they want regardless of party rules.
After six hours of oral arguments last week, Correll said he hoped a favorable ruling would inspire other rogue delegates to vote their conscience without fear of prosecution in the 20 states with similar laws.