Ruth Bader Ginsburg Gives AOC a Reality Check on Her Dream of Axing the Electoral College


Well, it appears the Notorious RBG doesn’t think too highly about AOC’s dream of nixing the Electoral College.

In a speech at the University of Chicago on Monday, Supreme Court justice and liberal hero Ruth Bader Ginsburg derided efforts to ax the Electoral College and elect presidents strictly by popular vote alone, saying that such efforts were “more theoretical than real.”

Recent calls to replace the Electoral College with the popular vote have been part of liberal dogma since, oh, about 11 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2016, when it became clear Hillary Clinton was going to get more votes than Donald Trump but could still lose the election.

Never mind that winning the popular vote was never the point. And never mind that the Democratic National Committee, in concert with the Clinton campaign, had wasted campaign resources on getting out the vote in states where the outcome was already certain because, according to a Politico report from December 2016, then-DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile had feared Hillary would end up losing the popular vote while winning the electoral vote.

In the liberal narrative, Trump had gotten fewer popular votes than Clinton, therefore his election was illegitimate.

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The issue has gained renewed traction, given that we’re approaching another election and one of the highest-profile Democrats in Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, recently made news by stating the Electoral College “is, in fact, a scam.”

“The Electoral College has a racial injustice breakdown,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an Instagram story posted last month.

“Due to severe racial disparities in certain states, the Electoral College effectively weighs white voters over voters of color, as opposed to a ‘one person, one vote’ system where all our votes are counted equally.”

Of course. In her speech Monday, Ginsburg didn’t address those “severe racial disparities in certain states,” but noted that there wasn’t much of a chance that the Electoral College would be replaced.

Do you think the Electoral College should be abolished?

“It’s largely a dream because our Constitution is … hard to amend,” Ginsburg told the audience, according to the Washington Examiner.

“I know that from experience.”

Not only could that be seen as a rebuke of Ocasio-Cortez’s call to abolish the Electoral College, it could also be seen as a word of warning to those behind the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a legislative agreement in which states would give their electoral votes to the popular vote winner no matter who won the state.

Currently, 15 states and the District of Columbia have signed onto it, although the NPVIC wouldn’t take effect until a bloc of states totaling 270 electoral votes — the number needed to elect a president — had passed legislation signing onto it.

States that have joined the NPVIC currently represent 196 of those electoral votes.

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However, such a move would inevitably be subject to a court challenge. Perhaps this is reading the tea leaves a bit too much here, but Ginsburg saying that “[i]t’s largely a dream” doesn’t augur well for the NPVIC’s ability to withstand judicial scrutiny.

Abolishing the Electoral College, in other words, would require the consent of states that are protected from electoral worthlessness by the College.

An amendment would require 38 of the 50 states to ratify it, in addition to getting a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress.

You’re about as likely to see that as to see the faces of “the squad” replacing George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore.

Instead, what the Electoral College provides is a convenient foil for Democrats. It’s racist, they claim. It privileges those pesky voters who live outside of a dozen or so major conurbations which will eventually replace those states as the foci of candidates’ interest. It gave us Dubya and The Donald. What else do you need to know?

Well, plenty.

Like most aspects of our constitutional republic, the Electoral College balances absolute majoritarian rule with protections for individual states. It’s part of the glue that allows a country with major geographical and ideological differences to cohere.

Most importantly, it’s part of the Constitution and neither AOC nor her allies are going to get enough legislators or states to make that very salient fact moot.

That doesn’t mean liberals are going to accept that gracefully. To quote the great hipster-bespectacled oracle of MSNBC, Chris Hayes, “the weirdest thing about the Electoral College is the fact that if it wasn’t specifically in the Constitution for the presidency, it would be unconstitutional.”

The point is, it is in the Constitution. And as Ginsburg said, it’s likely to stay there no matter what liberals want.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture