by Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog
The Supreme Court on Thursday appeared ready to hold that Colorado cannot exclude former President Donald Trump from the ballot based on his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol. During an oral argument that lasted for more than two hours, justices of all ideological stripes questioned the wisdom of allowing a state to make its own decisions about whether a candidate should appear on the ballot, both because of the effect that such decisions would have on the rest of the country and because of the hurdles that courts would face in reviewing those decisions.
The case centers on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was enacted in the wake of the Civil War to disqualify individuals from holding office who had previously served in the federal or state government before the war but then supported the Confederacy. It provides (as relevant here) that no one “shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State,” if that person had previously sworn, “as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States” to support the Constitution but then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the federal government.
Last fall a group of Colorado voters went to court, seeking to have Trump disqualified under Section 3 from appearing on the ballot. A trial court agreed that Trump had engaged in insurrection, but it nonetheless declined to remove him from the ballot because it concluded that the presidency is not an “office … under the United States,” and the president is not an “officer of the United States.”
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Dec. 19 that Trump is ineligible to be president under Section 3 and should not be listed on the primary ballot. The court put its ruling on hold to give the Supreme Court time to weigh in, which the justices agreed to do on Jan. 5.
Representing the former president,…Continue Reading