The recent Supreme Court oral arguments on the Trump 14th Amendment case have garnered significant attention and raised important questions about the former president's eligibility to appear on Colorado's ballot. The case revolves around a provision in the post-Civil War 14th Amendment that bars certain public officials from serving in the government if they participated in an insurrection. As the court's conservative justices signaled their inclination to side with Trump, it is crucial to analyze the potential implications of this decision and its impact on future elections.
Conservatives suggest several ways to side with Trump:
During the oral arguments, the court's conservative justices raised various questions that hinted at their inclination to support Trump. They questioned whether the insurrection ban was intended to apply to former presidents and whether it could be enforced without Congress passing a law. Some justices also emphasized the importance of democracy and expressed concerns about disenfranchising voters if Trump were to be removed from the ballot.
"Your position has the effect of disenfranchising voters to a significant degree... What about the background principle, if you agree, of democracy?"
Kavanaugh's focus on a historical case:
Justice Brett Kavanaugh's line of questioning focused on a 19th-century case, In Re. Griffin, which dealt with a judge who had fought for the Confederacy. Kavanaugh suggested that this case offered important insight into the meaning of the insurrection ban and potentially supports Trump's argument that states cannot enforce the ban without Congress passing legislation.
Jackson, liberals have tough questions for challengers:
Even some of the court's liberal justices posed challenging questions to the lawyers representing Trump's challengers. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, a nominee of President Joe Biden, noted that the 14th Amendment provision does not explicitly include the word "president," raising doubts about whether it was intended to apply to the highest office. Justice Elena Kagan questioned the implications of a single state banning a candidate in a presidential election, highlighting the broader consequences of such a decision.
Justices didn't focus on Trump's January 6 actions:
Surprisingly, the justices spent little time discussing Trump's actions surrounding the January 6 attack on the Capitol, which sparked the ballot challenge. Instead, they delved into the historical context of the Civil War and the intent behind the insurrectionist ban in the 14th Amendment. The focus on historical precedents rather than recent events may have implications for the court's ultimate decision.
Concerns over the process in Colorado:
Several justices, regardless of their ideological leanings, expressed concerns about the specific process that unfolded in Colorado, leading to Trump's disqualification from the ballot. The court seemed uneasy about the possibility of different states adopting varying procedures to settle such important questions. The criticisms raised by Justice Carlos Samour of the Colorado Supreme Court resonated with some justices, highlighting potential due process concerns.
The Supreme Court's oral arguments in the Trump 14th Amendment case have provided insights into the justices' thinking and potential outcomes. The conservative justices' questions indicate a leaning towards siding with Trump, while even liberal justices posed challenging inquiries. The court's ruling will not only impact Trump's eligibility in Colorado but also have implications for other states facing similar challenges. As the court moves towards its decision, the potential consequences for future elections and the interpretation of the 14th Amendment remain significant points of consideration.