The revived push to derail Donald Trump’s all-but-certain nomination as Republican Party standard-bearer took a turn into the courts Friday as a Virginia delegate to this summer’s national convention filed suit challenging a state law that commits him to backing the presumptive nominee.
Carroll B. Correll, who served as a campaign co-chairman for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in Virginia's 10th congressional district, is seeking class-action status for his suit on behalf of the commonwealth's 49 Republican delegates and 110 Democratic delegates.
The complaint states:
“Correll believes that Donald Trump is unfit to serve as President of the United States and that voting for Donald Trump would therefore violate Correll’s conscience. Accordingly, Correll will not vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot, or any other ballot, at the national convention.”
The Trump campaign has long dismissed such efforts to peel away delegates from his tally, especially now that he has more than enough to clinch the nomination. Those efforts seemed to die down last month but have since resurfaced as hundreds of delegates reportedly are exploring ways to buck the results of their state primaries and caucuses to vote for someone other than Trump. One option is to change party rules to include a “conscience clause” that would allow delegates to vote for whomever they want.
Trump has called attempts to siphon his delegates “totally illegal” and a slap in the face for people who voted for him. RNC aides have downplayed the movement to change the rules, with some calling it “silly.”
Trump has also claimed former primary rival Jeb Bush is behind the push, which Bush allies have rejected as a “ridiculous conspiracy theory.”
Regardless of who’s driving the dump-Trump push, the Virginia suit could impact those efforts.
At issue in the Virginia delegate’s case is a state law that says delegates are bound to vote on the first ballot for the candidate receiving the most votes in the primary “unless that candidate releases those delegates and alternates from such vote.”
Correll claims the law violates his First Amendment rights. He's seeking an injunction to exempt him from criminal penalties under Virginia law or possible retaliatory litigation by Trump for backing another candidate on the first ballot.
Trump won Virginia's primary in March, narrowly defeating Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and scooping up 17 delegates in the process.
Correll's attorneys, who filed the lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia, have asked for the case to be expedited in the hope of getting a ruling for the start of the convention in Cleveland July 18.
Fox News' Alicia Acuna and Faith Mangan contributed to this report.