Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Trump has Won: US Supreme Court Decision on Colorado Ballot Disqualification Case

HomePoliticsTrump has Won: US Supreme Court Decision on Colorado Ballot Disqualification Case

In a unanimous ruling that could have major implications for the 2024 presidential race, the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a lower court decision barring former President Donald Trump from appearing on Colorado’s Republican primary ballot.

The high court’s decision on Friday is a significant legal victory for Trump as he mounts another campaign for the White House. It clears a major hurdle that had threatened to block the 76-year-old former president from getting his name before voters in the Colorado nominating contest.

The case centered on whether a provision of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits anyone who has engaged in insurrection against the United States from holding federal office, should disqualify Trump from future presidencies due to his role in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In December, the Colorado Supreme Court had ruled that a group of voters could proceed with efforts under that Amendment to remove Trump from the state’s ballot. But the nation’s highest court swiftly and unanimously rejected that decision, saying the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause could not be enforced by state courts without authorization from Congress.

“The 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause is not the sort of directly enforceable prohibition that can provide a basis for keeping someone off the ballot,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas in the court’s opinion.

Trump celebrated the ruling on his Truth Social platform, stating “I always knew I would prevail, because I did nothing wrong on that perfect day.” He was referring to the January 6, 2021 events where his supporters violently stormed the Capitol building in an effort to overturn his election loss to Joe Biden.

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The Supreme Court decision is not only a boost to Trump’s current candidacy, but also prevents a legal precedent that could have jeopardized his future political ambitions. Prior to this ruling, Trump had been disqualified from primary ballots in Maine and Illinois over similar insurrection clause arguments.

Those state-level disqualifications were put on hold pending the Supreme Court’s determination in the Colorado case. Now with this ruling, those challenges are expected to be moot.

For Trump’s critics and the coalition of voters who launched the Colorado lawsuit, the court’s siding with the former president represents a frustrating setback in efforts to hold him accountable for the Capitol attack.

“The Supreme Court has passed up an opportunity to draw a line in the sand against insurrectionist actors who would try to overthrow the Constitution,” said Gerard Tremble, an attorney representing the voters. “This ruling effectively gives a green light for future presidents to foment vviolence if unhappy with an election outcome.”

The six Colorado plaintiffs who filed the challenge include four Republicans and two independents. They argued that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results amounted to aiding an insurrection, thus invoking the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause.

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Their lawsuit cited Trump’s December 19, 2020 tweet denouncing the “Big Lie” about election fraud and exhorting his supporters to “Be there, will be wild!” ahead of the January 6 rally that preceded the Capitol breach.

During oral arguments before the Supreme Court, Trump’s lawyers maintained that their client did not engage in an insurrection and that the disqualification clause was intended for Civil War-era insurrectionists, not incumbent presidents. His team also contended the clause could only be enforced by Congress, not state courts or officials.

While the court’s conservative majority clearly accepted those arguments, the liberal justices raised concerns about setting a permissive precedent for questioning future election results.

“One of the largest issues this case presents is whether we are going to be pulling the cork of allowing state legislatures or state courts to make substantive decisions about what the eligibility requirements are for candidates seeking presidential office,” said Justice Elena Kagan during oral arguments.

With the Colorado ruling, the Supreme Court has now delivered Trump two legal wins in a matter of weeks. Last month, the justices ruled that he can temporarily block a prosecutor from accessing his tax returns as part of a criminal investigation into hush money payments made during the 2016 campaign.

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Those were separate from the classified documents case, where a federal judge recently made the controversial decision to appoint a special master to review records seized by the FBI from Trump’s Florida residence. The Justice Department is appealing that ruling.

For now, the Supreme Court’s decision on the Colorado ballot issue removes a potentially catastrophic hurdle for Trump’s presidential campaign. It ensures he will appear on that state’s primary ballot when Republican voters head to the polls on March 14.

Looking ahead, securing the GOP nomination may still be an uphill battle for Trump against his lone remaining rival, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Polling shows a tight race with strong factions of Republican voters either embracing or rejecting Trump’s continued quest for the presidency.

But by clearing away the 14th Amendment disqualification efforts in Colorado and beyond, the Supreme Court ruling has enhanced Trump’s viability as a 2024 contender. It sets the stage for a potential rematch against President Biden, provided both men claim their respective nominations.

The stakes for American democracy could scarcely be higher. The Colorado court cited Trump’s “insurrectionist actions and efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election” in trying to bar his candidacy. Now that the Supreme Court has empowered him to proceed, voters may render their own judgment in next year’s general election.

Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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