| Jocelyn Augustino, American Media Institute

GOP delegate sues to avoid Donald Trump vote at convention

A prominent Republican delegate has sued to prevent Donald Trump from getting his vote at the Republican National Convention. 

Carroll B. Correll Jr., a Virginia delegate to the GOP's national convention in Cleveland, filed suit in federal district court late Friday seeking a "temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction" so he does not have to cast his vote for the winner of Virginia's presidential primary, Donald Trump.

In the suit, Correll, a long time Republican party activist, says he has "not yet determined for which candidate he will cast his vote for" at the July nominating convention. But he has "resolved" that he will not vote for Trump, whom Correll says "is unfit to serve as President of the United States."

Correll's suit challenges the constitutionality of a Virginia law that binds Democratic and Republican convention delegates alike to vote for the winner of the respective party's presidential primary.

In a statement posted to Twitter Friday evening, Correll's attorney, David Rivkin, said Virginia's law "is a clear violation of the speech and association rights protected by the First Amendment."

"No state has legal authority to regulate political parties' national conventions," he said, "or tell the delegate how to cast their convention ballots."

A June 13 Wall Street Journal op-ed that Rivkin co-authored with Citizens in Charge board member Eric O'Keefe asserted that state party rules "that bind delegates are also legally irrelevant."

The Republican Party of Virginia, which is not named in the lawsuit, issued a statement Friday evening on its Facebook page saying the rules for delegates "set down by both the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Virginia are clear, and the delegate allocation set by the voters in the March primary remain unchanged."

Under Virginia's rules, delegates to the national convention are bound through the first round of balloting. But not all of the state's delegates are committed to vote for Donald Trump, who defeated Florida Sen. Marco Rubio 35 to 32 percent in the state's primary.

Because Virginia awarded its delegates on a proportional basis after the March 1 primary, every presidential candidate "who received delegates on March 1 will get those delegates in Cleveland," David D'Onofrio, spokesman for the Republican Party of Virginia, told AMI Newswire. 

Based on the Virginia GOP primary results, Trump has 17 of Virginia's 49 delegates, while second-place finisher Rubio has 16.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson also won delegates from Virginia.

Under current national party rules, however, delegate votes for Carson, Kasich, and Rubio will not be counted, as they did not win the required majority of the votes cast in at least eight states.

One of Correll's fellow convention delegates from Virginia's 10th congressional district, Mick Staton, wrote on the website Bull Elephant on Sunday that he does "not agree with the lawsuit," because "it is already a matter of settled law."

Staton noted the Republican National Committee rules require states holding their presidential primaries before March 15 to allocate their convention delegates proportionally, as opposed to winner-take-all.

This, he argued, negates Correll's contention that he must vote for Trump, or face possible legal penalties under Virginia law for refusing to do so. "The Supreme Court has ruled in more than one case on the supremacy of the national parties over the states when it comes to the selection of national delegates and who they vote for."

Brian Schoeneman, an attorney and former head of the Fairfax County Election Board, told AMI Newswire he was skeptical of the suit's chances for success. "It strikes me as a publicity stunt," he said. 

"While there is some question as to whether state law binds delegates, most courts are going to be exceedingly hesitant to come in and decide matters that should be addressed by the governing bodies of organizations, especially political parties.

"I just don't see this going very far." Schoeneman added.