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Trump Can Remain in Ballot, US Supreme Court Rules

US Supreme Court has ruled that Donald Trump was wrongly removed from Colorado's primary ballot last year.
US Supreme Court has ruled that Donald Trump was wrongly removed from Colorado’s primary ballot last year. Credit: Gage Skidmore. CC BY 2.0/flickr

The US Supreme Court has ruled that Donald Trump was wrongly removed from Colorado’s primary ballot last year, which means the path is clear for the businessman to appear on the ballot in all fifty states.

The unanimous decision of the highest court in the US has overturned a 4-3 ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court, which said the former President was not permitted to run because he had engaged in insurrection during the January 6th attack on the US Capitol. The Colorado ruling was based on a novel interpretation of section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars insurrectionists from holding office.

“We conclude that States may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion. “But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency.”

Congress, the court said, had to enact the procedures for disqualification under Section 3.
“State-by-state resolution of the question whether Section 3 bars a particular candidate for President from serving would be quite unlikely to yield a uniform answer consistent with the basic principle that the President represent[s] all the voters in the Nation,” the court added.

The presidential primary in Colorado is tomorrow, Tuesday, March 5th, and Trump was permitted to appear on the ballot while the case was pending. Judges in Maine and Illinois had too ruled that Trump could not partake in the ballot in their states, but these decisions are now likely to be reversed.

Judges’ decision on Trump’s Colorado primary entry

All nine justices were in agreement with the main point in the case that the Colorado Supreme Court was wrong to bar Trump from appearing on the ballot. Agreement ended there, however.

The majority opinion said that the only way to enforce section 3 was by tailoring specific congressional legislation to determine which individuals should be disqualified for insurrection. However, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Amy Coney Barrett, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and Elena Kagan all agreed that move went beyond the scope of the case, with the liberal justices stating the court was shielding insurrectionists from accountability.

“The Court continues on to resolve questions not before us,” the liberal Justices wrote. “In a case involving no federal action whatsoever, the Court opines on how federal enforcement of Section 3 must proceed. “These musings are as inadequately supported as they are gratuitous.”

The liberal Justices said the court’s conservative majority had made it nearly impossible to hold insurrectionists accountable. The court “forecloses judicial enforcement” of the provision, they wrote, and was “ruling out enforcement under general federal statutes requiring the government to comply with the law.”

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