“With flourish, Trump rejects independent bid if he loses GOP nomination”


Election lawyers say the pledge is not legally binding because it does not promise the parties anything in return for their loyalty.

“As a matter of contract law, it doesn’t look like an enforceable contract,” said UC Irvine law professor Richard Hasen, who specializes in election law.

“To be a binding contract, they have to be giving something, and what could they give?” Hasen asked.

Trump told reporters he received “absolutely nothing, other than the assurance that I would be treated fairly” in return for his signature, a statement that might leave some room for later interpretation. Asked whether he would change his mind, he said, “No, I have no intention of changing my mind.”

The party appears to be simply banking on candidates’ unwillingness to break a promise, Hasen noted.

“If [Trump] later changed his mind, he would be painted as a hypocrite for promising one thing and doing something else,” Hasen said.

Michael Kang, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta who has written about election laws, called the pledge “an attempt to replicate the effect” of so-called sore-loser laws. Such laws stipulate that a registered primary candidate cannot switch parties or become an independent to run in a general election, though states rarely apply them to presidential candidates, Kang and Hasen said.

Kang called the enforcement of such a pledge an “open question.”

“It’s safe to say that there would be constitutional questions about their enforceability,” Kang said.

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