United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
RICHARD J. LYMAN, WILLIAM F. WELD, and ROBERT D. CAPODILUPO, Plaintiffs,
CHARLES D. BAKER, in his official capacity as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and WILLIAM FRANCIS GALVIN, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
B. SARIS, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiffs, two Republicans and one Libertarian, challenge
the constitutionality of Massachusetts's system for
allocating electors in presidential elections. The plaintiffs
have voted and plan to continue voting in Massachusetts for
presidential candidates who are not members of the Democratic
Party. They allege that their votes for these candidates are
effectively discarded because Massachusetts has adopted a
“winner-take-all” (“WTA”) system for
selecting electors. In this system, the candidate receiving
the most votes in Massachusetts is awarded all of the
Commonwealth's electors, with the other candidates
receiving no electors. The plaintiffs seek a declaration that
this system violates the United States Constitution -- both
the “one person, one vote” principle rooted in
the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
(Count I) and the voters' freedom of association
protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments (Count II).
In their view, the Constitution requires a “more
equitable” method for distributing electors, one that
allocates electors proportionately to parties.
Complaint seeks a declaration that the WTA system is
unconstitutional and a corresponding injunction. It also asks
the Court to impose a deadline by which state authorities
must implement a valid method of selecting electors.
defendants have moved to dismiss based on Rule 12(b)(1) and
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. After
hearing, the Court concludes that the Massachusetts
winner-take-all system of selecting electors in presidential
elections is constitutional. The motion to dismiss (Dkt. No.
21) is ALLOWED.
following facts are drawn from the Complaint. I. The
Parties Plaintiff William F. Weld is a registered
Libertarian and the former Republican Governor of
Massachusetts. Plaintiffs Richard J. Lyman and Robert D.
Capodilupo are registered Republicans. All three plaintiffs
are Massachusetts residents. They have consistently voted for
non-Democratic candidates for president, and they intend to
continue to do so in future presidential elections.
Charles D. Baker is the Governor of Massachusetts. Defendant
William Francis Galvin is the Secretary of the Commonwealth,
and his office administers elections. Both are sued in their
Winner-Take-All Selection of Electors
along with 47 other states and the District of Columbia, has
adopted statutes under which its electors for president and
vice president are appointed on a winner-take-all
(“WTA”) basis. See Mass. Gen. Laws ch.
54, § 118 (stating that electors “who have
received the highest number of votes . . . shall . . . be
deemed to be elected”). Under this system, the
political party of the candidate who receives the most votes
in Massachusetts appoints all of the Commonwealth's
electors. See id. For example, in 2016, Secretary
Hillary Clinton received 60 percent of the votes in
Massachusetts and all of its electors. President Donald Trump
received 32.8 percent of the Massachusetts vote, but none of
result of the WTA system is that the top vote-getter receives
all of the Commonwealth's electors, and the other
candidates receive no electors. This is true regardless of
whether the winning candidate earns a majority or a mere
plurality of the popular vote. See Mass. Gen. Laws
ch. 54, § 118 (requiring governor and secretary of state
to collect names of presidential electors who receive more
than one-fifth of entire number of votes cast for electors
and deeming the highest vote-getter the winner). And it
applies regardless of whether the candidate wins by a large
margin or a slim one. See id.
plaintiffs allege that the WTA system weakens the influence
of Massachusetts voters in presidential elections. They claim
that the WTA system leads candidates to focus
disproportionate attention on “battleground”
states that represent only 35 percent of eligible voters
nationwide. In addition, they allege that the WTA system
facilitates outside interference in presidential elections
because a small number of voters in predictable battleground
states exert undue influence over the presidential election
to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), the
defendants' attack the plaintiffs' standing to bring
this case. To satisfy standing, “[t]he party invoking
federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing [three]
elements.” Lujan v. Defs. of Wildlife, 504
U.S. 555, 561 (1992). First, the plaintiff must have suffered
an “injury in fact” -- that is, an invasion of a
legally protected interest which is both “concrete and
particularized, ” and “actual or imminent,
” as opposed to “conjectural or
hypothetical.” Id. at 560. “Second,
there must be a causal connection between the injury and the
conduct complained of.” Id. “Third, it
must be likely,' as opposed to merely
‘speculative,' that the injury will be
‘redressed by a favorable decision.'”
Id. at 561 (quoting Simon v. Eastern Ky. Welfare
Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 38, 43 (1976)).
their brief, the defendants attacked two of these
requirements: injury-in-fact and redressability. At oral
argument, the parties agreed that the injury-in-fact analysis
overlaps with the merits of the plaintiffs'
constitutional claims. In other words, if WTA is
unconstitutional, then the plaintiffs have suffered an
injury-in-fact; otherwise, they have not. See Erwin
Chemerinsky, Federal Jurisdiction § 2.3.2 (4th ed. 2003)
(describing how, in some cases, “deciding whether there
is an injury to a legally protected constitutional interest .
. . requires inquiry into the merits of the case”).
the Court will proceed directly to analyzing the
plaintiffs' constitutional claims under the
well-established standard for Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). On a
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must analyze
whether the complaint contains sufficient factual matter to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79
“One Person, One Vote” Claim
plaintiffs assert that Massachusetts's WTA system for
allocating electors violates the “one person, one
vote” principle. The defendants argue that this claim
is foreclosed by binding Supreme Court precedent. They also
argue that even without this precedent, the WTA system does
not violate “one person, one vote” because it