United States Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Trump Ballot Eligibility

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The United States Supreme Court, the nation’s highest court, heard arguments regarding former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on the ballot.  The State of Colorado has previously questioned Trump’s eligibility, citing their belief that he was involved in the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.  This is the first time the Supreme Court has heard a case that could have a direct impact on the Presidential election since Bush v. Gore in 2000, a decision that led to George W. Bush becoming the next President.

There is an urgency for the Supreme Court to make a ruling because the primary elections are now in progress and Trump is currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.  Colorado officials have asked for the Supreme Court make a decision by Sunday, Feb. 11, because ballots will be mailed out for early voters in the primary election next week.  A ruling by that date is extremely unlikely and it is unclear whether there will even be a decision made by March 5, the day of Colorado’s Republican Primary.  Known as Super Tuesday, there will be 15 states and the territory of American Samoa voting in primary elections on March 5.

Colorado’s stance is based on section three of the 14th Amendment, which says, “No person 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, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

This particular part of the Constitution has never been used as a Presidential criterion in past elections.  The 14th Amendment was passed in 1868, following the end of the American Civil War in 1865.  The amendment gave United States citizenship to all people who were born or naturalized in the United States, including African-Americans and people who had been slaves.  Section three of the amendment sometimes referred to as the insurrection clause, is believed to have been originally intended to keep members of the Confederacy from holding office in the military or government.

Chief Justice John Roberts expressed a concern that keeping Trump’s name off the ballot would result in there being challenges against the Democratic nominee in an effort to keep them off the ballot in some states.  Roberts believed the result could be a select number of states deciding who will be the next President.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson expressed concern that President wasn’t included in the list of offices that could not be held if someone engaged in an insurrection or rebellion in section three of the 14th Amendment.

 

 

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