Donald Trump came out on top in last month's presidential election, but his spot in the White House is not yet guaranteed. That's because members of the electoral college still have to cast their ballots - they will do so on December 19th. Electors are not constitutionally bound to vote for the candidate who won their state, though voting contrary to state results could violate individual state laws.
With that in mind, Harvard University law professor and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig is offering free legal guidance to electors through his new project, The Electors Trust, to potential "faithless electors" who are considering voting against their state's outcome. Lessig discussed the project with WGBH All Things Considered host Barbara Howard.
<i>Lessig on the legality of electors voting contrary to state results</i>
"What the Supreme Court has said is that state can tell the electors how they are morally obliged to vote. So they can make them pledge morally to vote one way or the other. The court has made it pretty clear that the assumption of our framers was that they would maintain the right of an independent non-partisan judgement. And that means they can't be legally forced to vote one way or the other. They're free to exercise their judgment."
<i>Lessig on why he decided to offer free legal services to electors</i>
"Nobody really knows how many there are. So what we tried to do was create a structure where the electors could consider exercising their judgement without the fear that if it turns out there's only two or three of them, they wont be hung out to dry for stepping out of line."