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Trump takes Colorado ballot disqualification to US Supreme Court

-Editorial

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to determine whether former President Donald Trump can keep running for the White House. Trump appealed a ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court that he’s ineligible for the presidency because he violated a rarely used constitutional prohibition on those who hold office having “engaged in insurrection.”

Trump’s eligibility to run in the 2024 U.S. presidential election is in dispute, due to his involvement in the January 6 United States Capitol attack. Trump’s involvement in the attack on the Capitol and subsequent indictments may bar him from serving as president under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s “insurrection clause”, which disqualifies insurrectionists against the United States from holding office if they have previously taken an oath to support the Constitution.

In December 2023, the Colorado Supreme Court in Anderson v. Griswold ruled that Trump had engaged in insurrection and was ineligible to hold the office of President, and ordered that he be removed from the state’s primary election ballots as a result. The decision is stayed pending review by the United States Supreme Court. Later that same month, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows also ruled that Trump engaged in insurrection and was therefore ineligible to be on the state’s primary election ballot. That decision is stayed while on appeal to a state court. Previously, the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals both ruled that presidential eligibility cannot be applied by their state courts to primary elections, but did not rule on the issues for a general election. By January 2024, formal challenges to Trump’s eligibility had been filed in at least 34 states.

Several commentators have also argued for disqualification because of democratic backsliding, as well as the paradox of tolerance, arguing that voters should not be able to elect Donald Trump, whom they see as a threat to the republic. There have been widespread doxxing, swatting, and violent threats made against politicians who have attempted to remove Trump from the ballot. On December 29, 2023, Bellows was swatted. The incidents are part of the broader 2023 swatting of American politicians, popularly known as the Season of Swatting.

In August 2023, two prominent conservative legal scholars, William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, wrote in a research paper that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies Trump from being president as a consequence of his actions involving attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election.

Conservative legal scholar J. Michael Luttig and liberal legal scholar Laurence Tribe soon concurred in an article they co-wrote, arguing Section 3 protections are automatic and “self-executing”, independent of congressional action. Luttig explained the reasoning during television appearances. Some legal experts believe a court would be required to make a final determination if Trump was disqualified under Section 3. Scholars believe these challenges are likely to reach the Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority; lawyer Marshall Tanick said they are unlikely to disqualify Trump.

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