Supreme Court to review Trump’s eligibility for 2024 ballot in upcoming arguments

The Supreme Court is scheduled to meet on Thursday for oral arguments regarding the eligibility of former President Donald Trump for a second term in the White House. This dispute places the nine justices in uncharted legal territory and has the potential to greatly impact the 2024 presidential race.

The high court is currently examining the case of Trump v. Anderson, which questions whether Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol disqualifies him from running for the presidency again. This decision will have far-reaching implications nationwide, as it will determine whether Trump can appear on primary and general election ballots in all 50 states.

Oral arguments will commence shortly after 10:30 a.m., and you can listen to the live-streamed audio in the player at the top of this page. The allotted time for arguments is eighty minutes, although it is anticipated that the proceedings may exceed this duration. Representing Trump is Jonathan Mitchell, an attorney based in Texas, while Jason Murray, who practices in Denver, will appear on behalf of the six Colorado voters who challenged Trump’s eligibility. Colorado Solicitor General Shannon Stevenson will also present arguments in support of Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

The Colorado Trump lawsuit

The battle stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Colorado voters in the fall. This lawsuit invoked a rarely utilized provision of a constitutional amendment passed in 1868. The amendment was originally intended to prevent former Confederates from holding public office.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, also referred to as the insurrection clause, had never been invoked to disqualify a presidential candidate until recently. In a significant ruling in December, the Colorado Supreme Court decided that Donald Trump was ineligible to hold office due to his involvement in the events of January 6. This 4-3 split decision led to an order withholding his name from the state’s GOP presidential primary ballot.

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The Supreme Court, currently comprised of a conservative majority with three justices appointed by Trump, is now facing a high-stakes legal battle. This decision has brought forth a number of untested legal questions for the justices to ponder. It also places the nation’s highest court in the midst of a politically charged dispute, coinciding with the upcoming 2024 presidential election, where millions of voters are preparing to cast their ballots.

Trump has emerged as the victor in the initial two contests of the Republican presidential primary, triumphing in Iowa and New Hampshire. Colorado has also printed ballots that feature his name in preparation for its forthcoming primary on March 5th, which coincides with several other states holding their GOP primaries.

The Supreme Court has not played such a central role in a presidential election for over two decades. In the 2000 race, the court’s ruling in the case Bush v. Gore effectively determined the outcome in favor of Republican candidate George W. Bush. This decision sparked intense political controversy, and it is worth noting that Justice Clarence Thomas is the only current member of the court who also served during that time.

Why are Colorado voters challenging Trump’s ballot eligibility?

The Supreme Court case was filed in September 2023 by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, representing four Republican and two unaffiliated voters from Colorado. These voters contended that Trump should be disqualified from running for president under Section 3, and therefore should not be included on the Colorado primary and general election ballots.

The provision prohibits anyone who took an oath to uphold the Constitution and subsequently participated in an insurrection against it from holding a federal or state office. The voters argue that Trump incited the January 6 attack in an attempt to undermine the peaceful transfer of presidential power following the 2020 election, thus rendering him ineligible for public office.

Following a five-day trial in Denver, a judge from a state court concluded that Trump was involved in insurrection by means of incitement. However, the judge also ruled that Section 3 does not apply to the presidency and the former president. As a result, Trump’s name has been allowed to be included on Colorado’s GOP primary ballot.

The decision made by the district court was appealed by both the voters and Trump to the Colorado Supreme Court, which is made up of seven justices appointed by Democratic governors. In December, the state’s highest court issued a 4-3 decision that overturned the district court’s interpretation of Section 3, ultimately determining that Trump is not eligible for the presidency. Although the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s name cannot be included on the primary ballot, it temporarily halted its decision to give him the opportunity to appeal to the highest court in the country.

Following the Colorado ruling, the secretary of state in Maine has determined that Trump is ineligible for holding office and should be excluded from the primary ballot. However, a state court has temporarily stopped the implementation of this decision and has ordered the secretary to review her findings once the Supreme Court makes its ruling.

The Trump Supreme Court case

The Supreme Court is currently reviewing the case to determine if the Colorado court made an incorrect decision in excluding Trump from the ballot. Trump’s legal team has brought up several points for the justices to consider. These points include whether Section 3 applies to Trump as a former president, whether he was involved in insurrection, and whether state and federal courts have the authority to enforce the provision without legislation from Congress.

According to Trump’s legal team, they argue that the provision should not be used to prevent him from accessing the ballot. They claim that the provision only prohibits a person from holding office, but it does not restrict them from running as a candidate or winning an election.

For the former president to succeed, he would require the support of most of the justices on any of these issues.

According to his lawyers, it is crucial for the court to swiftly and definitively put an end to these attempts to disqualify ballots. These efforts pose a significant risk of disenfranchising millions of Americans and have the potential to create chaos and disorder if other state courts and officials decide to follow Colorado’s example and exclude the probable Republican presidential nominee from their respective ballots.

The voters are compelling the Supreme Court to support the Colorado ruling, asserting that Trump violated his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution by inciting a violent mob to assault the Capitol in an effort to obstruct the counting of electoral votes cast against him.

According to their lawyers, Trump’s stance is more political than legal. They assert that he is subtly using the threat of “bedlam” if he is not included on the ballot. However, they point out that we have already witnessed the chaos he caused when he was on the ballot and lost. They argue that Section 3 is specifically designed to prevent individuals like Trump, who have broken their oath, from having the ability to create such havoc once again.

The voters have issued a warning to the Supreme Court, urging them not to delay the decision on Trump’s eligibility until after the November election. They emphasize that a ruling stating that Section 3 cannot be applied at this point would have disastrous consequences.

The lawyers representing the case argue that delaying the resolution of Trump’s eligibility until after millions of Americans have already voted would result in widespread disenfranchisement, a constitutional crisis, and the chaotic situation that Trump himself has warned about.

The timing of the justices’ decision remains uncertain, despite the pleas from all parties involved to expedite the ruling on Trump’s eligibility.

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