‘Engaged’ Supreme Court hears Trump ballot exclusion arguments
In a remarkably animated session on February 8, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in Trump v. Anderson, a case to decide whether Donald Trump should be disqualified from the 2024 presidential ballot in Colorado for violating Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. The passage prohibits anyone who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States from “hold[ing] any office” under the United States.
According to CEIR Executive Director David Becker, who was in attendance, the arguments were illuminating, with all nine justices very engaged. “Ultimately it was pretty clear that there is some consensus,” he said, “perhaps even unanimity, to rule against disqualifying [former] President Trump, likely on the grounds that the state of Colorado does not have the power granted by Congress to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment.”
The arguments centered less on whether Trump had engaged in insurrection than the issue of state power, especially whether congressional authorization is required before states can act in this manner. It was suggested more than once in the hearing that to do otherwise would allow for chaos and a variety of different rulings in the states.
Another set of concerns focused on the language of the amendment, especially whether the president is an “officer of the United States” and the presidency an office of the United States—the specific designations highlighted by the amendment.
Given the urgency of the ballot question, Becker predicts a decision as soon as the end of February. And given the tenor and direction of the justices’ questioning, a unanimous or near-unanimous ruling against disqualifying former President Trump from the ballot seems likely.
Although this would be former President Trump’s preferred outcome for this case, the significance pales in comparison to the legal jeopardy he still faces. Many serious issues will play out over the next several weeks and months, including the New York hush money case, the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, the Georgia election interference case, and the federal indictment for his role in the January 6th insurrection.