Supreme Court Poised to Reinstate Donald Trump’s Ballot Eligibility: Justices Deliberate on 14th Amendment's Impact

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  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 02/08/2024
A bid to disqualify Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential election looked unlikely, as justices representing a wide range of ideological perspectives suggested on Thursday that Congress, not individual states, should establish the requirements before a presidential candidate can be disqualified for insurrection.

Invoking a post-Civil War constitutional provision, the Colorado Supreme Court disqualified Trump from the state's presidential election in December, ruling that he had committed acts of insurrection by encouraging his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, with the intent of preventing the certification of President Biden's victory in the November 2020 election. In response to Trump's appeal, the US Supreme Court moved quickly to hear the case before Colorado's primary election on March 5.

According to Chief Justice John Roberts, "if Colorado's stance is supported, obviously there will be disqualification procedures on the other side," implying a nationwide cycle of political reprisal by states. Many states will declare that the Democratic candidate is ineligible to run for office. And you are not on the ballot, others who support the Republican candidate.

Jason Murray, who filed a lawsuit to remove Trump from office on behalf of six Republican and independent voters in Colorado, downplayed these worries. For 150 years, the disqualification clause "has remained inactive." And it is because, since Reconstruction, we have not seen anything like to January 6th," he said. "A revolt against the Constitution is a unique phenomenon."

Justice Samuel Alito replied that impeachment had never occurred between President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and President Bill Clinton in 1998. "And during the previous couple of decades, we have had three in quite quick succession," he said. I am not sure how much you can deduce from it, therefore.

In Maine, where a December judgment by Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows excluding Trump off the ballot is on hold until the Supreme Court resolves the Colorado fight, a Trump-friendly verdict would probably put an end to similar attempts taking place in a number of states. The courts have rejected a number of more efforts to keep Trump off the ballot.  

Following the hearings from his Florida home, front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, Donald Trump stated, "I thought it was a really lovely process." "I felt that today's presentation was excellent. It was, I believe, warmly received. I hope everyone enjoyed it. 

Attending the debates was Krista Kafer, one of the Republican voters from Colorado who contested Trump's eligibility. She warned that there would be chaos over Trump's listing on the ballot if the court decided in our favor. "However, it would be dangerous if they did not rule for us because it would enable what Trump did to become the new normal." 

But during the two-hour discussion, the judges did not seem very interested in discussing what happened on January 6. Instead, their attention was directed on the proper implementation of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was enacted in 1868 to prohibit former officials who defected to the Confederacy from regaining control of the state or federal governments. 

When it comes to implementing Section 3, there is not much established precedent since it has not been in effect since Congress restored the rights of the majority of former Confederates in 1872. Both conservative and liberal justices considered the ramifications of allowing each state to define rebellion and ballot disqualification for presidential candidates without reference to the founders' intent or a chain of authority interpreting the language.

According to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, democratic ideals militate against ousting presidential candidates in the absence of explicit congressional authorization. "Is it not the case that we need to consider democracy and the people's freedom to choose the candidates they want to support?" he asked Murray. "Because your stance has the major consequence of disenfranchising voters." 

Murray said, "The reason we are here is because President Trump attempted to deny the right to vote to 80 million Americans who cast ballots against him." Furthermore, it is not required by the Constitution to provide him another opportunity.

It is likely that Thursday will not be the first occasion this year that the justices hear arguments involving Trump. He is anticipated to submit an appeal on Tuesday of the circuit court ruling that denied him categorical immunity for offenses he is accused of committing while in office. Special counsel Jack Smith brought the lawsuit because of Trump's attempt to hold onto office after losing the 2020 election.


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