The US Supreme Court is interrupting its winter break to listen to a case involving Donald Trump. The question is whether Trump, a leading presidential candidate, can be excluded from the ballot. The decision could cause turmoil in the US.
Trump predicts “unrest and chaos” if he’s excluded, arguing it would deprive millions of their choice. Critics say Trump has already caused unrest, such as when he refused to accept his 2020 election loss.
Capitol Attack and Consequences
Trump is blamed for the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021 which aimed to stop Joe Biden from becoming president. Trump’s eligibility is being questioned in 13 states, pending the Supreme Court’s decision.
The case is triggered by Colorado’s decision to disqualify Trump from its primary election due to his role in the Capitol attack, considered a crime under the 14th Amendment, Section 3.
The 14th Amendment states that anyone involved in an insurrection or rebellion against the US government cannot hold any civil or military office. The decision on whether Colorado can disqualify Trump on this basis could have a broad impact.
The 14th Amendment was established in 1868 to prevent southern secession leaders from holding powerful positions following the Civil War.
Legal debates revolve around the applicability of the 14th Amendment to the 2024 election and whether it applies to presidential candidate Trump since the highest office isn’t explicitly mentioned in the amendment. In some states, participants in the Capitol attack have been barred from public office.
Trump denies involvement in the rebellion, but his false election fraud claims and calls for protests are considered evidence against him. His exclusion supporters in Colorado are confident of his guilt.
Trump’s lawyers argue he should be the likely Republican nominee and that the people should decide the next president, not courts or election supervisors.
Another defense line concerns whether a former president can be prosecuted for actions during their term. The Federal District Court in Washington recently ruled that a president isn’t above the law.
How far the Supreme Court will go remains unclear. They may seek procedural decisions without addressing whether Trump was involved in a rebellion against the constitutional order.
The Supreme Court’s decision could potentially lead to further unrest and a chaotic election. The court’s role is to apply the law without fearing consequences, despite the potential impact on the integrity of the 2024 election.
Trust in the Supreme Court has declined, especially after the 2022 ruling on abortion rights. The court, with a conservative majority due to Trump’s appointments, faces potential backlash regardless of the decision on Trump.
In 2000, the Supreme Court played a similar role when it effectively made George W. Bush president. However, there was no threat of civil unrest then. The court could avoid addressing whether Trump was involved in a rebellion by ruling that states cannot exclude candidates from a national election.