'Never Trump' showdown set for Richmond federal court next week

'Never Trump' showdown set for Richmond federal court next week
Donald Trump hosts a rally at Richmond Coliseum, photo courtesy NBC12
Donald Trump hosts a rally at Richmond Coliseum, photo courtesy NBC12
U.S. District Judge Robert Payne will hear the case July 7, photo courtesy wlu.edu
U.S. District Judge Robert Payne will hear the case July 7, photo courtesy wlu.edu

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's a strategy that could have the makings of a Donald Trump revolt in Richmond, after a Virginia GOP leader filed a federal lawsuit to unbind delegates from the presumptive Republican nominee.

Carroll Boston "Beau" Correll Jr. is seeking protection from possible prosecution if he fails to vote for Trump on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Correll will now have his class action complaint heard in Richmond July 7 before U.S. District Judge Robert Payne.

Under Virginia election law, party delegates must vote on the first ballot for the winner of the state's presidential primary. Failing to do so is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Correll asserts an individual's vote for a presidential nominee constitutes political speech protected by the First Amendment, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.

"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," the lawsuit states.

"Accordingly, Correll will not vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot, or any other ballot, at the national convention."

If the judge grants the Winchester delegate a victory in federal court, delegates skeptical of Trump's candidacy could use the development as justification to change their votes on the first ballot.

Earlier this month, Trump dismissed the prospect of a "Never Trump" convention coup.

"Number one, they can't do it legally," Trump said in an interview with NBC News. "Number two, I worked for over one year, and we won all of those delegates."

Trump received the most votes in Virginia's Republican primary, winning 34.7 percent of the electorate. There are 49 Virginia delegates headed to the 2016 GOP convention, with 17 bound to Trump for the first ballot.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is listed as the lead defendant, along with four top state election officials and Winchester's commonwealth attorney.

The 2016 Republican National Convention will be held July 18-21.

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