DemDaily: Supreme Court Rules Trump Cannot Be Barred From Ballot

March 4, 2024

In a major win for Donald Trump today, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the former President Trump cannot be barred from Colorado's primary ballot for violation of the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause.

Colorado is one of 36 states where Trump's ballot eligibility has been challenged, based on his role in inciting the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol. Trump is also appealing court decisions that disqualify him from primary ballots in Illinois and Maine. Those rulings are now expected to be overturned.

The landmark Trump v. Anderson decision -- the most significant election case before the high court since Bush v. Gore in 2000 -- clears the way for Trump to appear on the ballot nationwide and removes the last legal barrier to his path to the nomination.

While Trump, who is also facing 91 felony counts in four jurisdictions -- including conspiracy to defraud the United States -- may be tried and convicted before the election, nothing in the Constitution prohibits him from running for and being reelected president.

The court ruled unanimously on the question at hand: whether an individual state, under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, "may keep a presidential candidate found to have engaged in insurrection off its ballot."

There were sharp divisions, however, on the majority's decision to expand the scope of the case, determining the final say on whom the provision disqualifies to Congress.

"The Constitution makes Congress, rather than the states, responsible for enforcing Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates,” the unsigned majority wrote, "But states have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the presidency."

In what reportedly started as a dissent, the court’s three liberal members -- Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson -- filed a joint concurring opinion, criticizing the majority’s overreach, claiming it was meant to insulate the court and Mr. Trump “from future controversy.”

“Today, the majority goes beyond the necessities of this case to limit how Section 3 can bar an oathbreaking insurrectionist from becoming president," the opinion said.

“Although federal enforcement of Section 3 is in no way at issue...the majority...reaches out to decide Section 3 questions not before us, and to foreclose future efforts to disqualify a presidential candidate under that provision. In a sensitive case crying out for judicial restraint, it abandons that course.”

In a separate concurring opinion, Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote, “This is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency. The Court has settled a politically charged issue in the volatile season of a Presidential election. Particularly in this circumstance, writings on the Court should turn the national temperature down, not up...For present purposes, our differences are far less important than our unanimity: All nine Justices agree on the outcome of this case. That is the message Americans should take home."

Monday’s decision comes less than a week after SCOTUS agreed to take up US v. Donald Trump, which addresses whether sweeping presidential powers immune Trump from prosecution on criminal charges that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Despite appeals from DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith to fast-track a decision based on the "unique national importance" of the case, the high court will not hear oral arguments until late April and a decision is not expected before late June or early July.

Tomorrow: Super Tuesday! 15 states and one territory, including Colorado, will hold presidential primary contests.

Related
DemDaily: Delaying Justice 3/1/24
DemDaily: The 2024 Presidential Calendar. The Update 2/27/24
DemDaily: Supreme Court Weighs Trump Ballot Battle 2/9/24
DemDaily: DemDaily: Red State, Blue State 1/31/24
DemDaily: Three Years Later. The Capitol Insurrection 1/9/24
DemDaily: Disqualified to Run? 9/12/23

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Sources: ABC, New York Times, US, Axios, CNN, ScotusBlog

 

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