Supreme Court Delivers Ruling on Trump, Colorado Ballot Ban


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.

The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered its long-awaited ruling on the case involving the Colorado Supreme Court banning him from that state’s 2024 ballot.

The Supreme Court has overturned the decision from Colorado. Trump will remain on the ballot.

Earlier this month, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig outlined how he thinks the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in the 14th Amendment cases filed throughout the country to keep Trump off the ballot.


After assessing all of the potential questions and scenarios, the former federal prosecutor wrote that he believes the nation’s highest court will rule in favor of Trump.

“Nobody knows for sure how this is going to go. No practitioner, no law professor, no retired judge, no Twitter icon, no TV analyst or former prosecutor (ahem) can rightly make bold declarations about how the ongoing legal Armageddon over the 14th Amendment will ultimately come out,” Honig began in his column for the New York Intelligencer. “…[W]e can draw on adjacent examples, but we’ve never seen anything quite like the ongoing effort to disqualify Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot.”

Across the country, the vast majority of 14th Amendment challenges have not succeeded. Many have been dismissed by secretaries of State, state courts, or federal judges for a variety of reasons. However, Colorado and Maine have recently departed from this trend and, at least temporarily, concluded that Trump was involved in an insurrection, barring his appearance on their 2024 ballots, Honig noted.

As such, the Supreme Court decided to take the case, and arguments are due later this month.

“In his petition for review, Trump makes somewhere between seven and ten arguments against his disqualification, depending how thinly we slice the pie. The Court might rule on all of them, or some, or none at all; it might find for Trump on some issues but against him on others; or it could import a rationale that Trump has not even raised. The permutations are dizzying, mathematically,” Hoenig wrote.

First and foremost, he speculated, the Supreme Court wants to quickly and definitively decide the issue so as to avoid additional litigation and patchwork applications of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause across the states.

“The Court has every incentive to use a silver bullet here. One shot and we’re done,” he said.

Envisioning a scenario in which the court goes against the prevailing but not unanimous expectation and upholds Trump’s disqualification by the Colorado Supreme Court, such a ruling would essentially convey that individual states possess the authority to interpret and implement the 14th Amendment in accordance with their own procedures, Honig noted. A verdict of this nature would prevent Trump from appearing on the Colorado ballot and establish a precedent that other states can also employ the 14th Amendment to disqualify him, provided they adhere to reasonably equitable processes.

“But here’s the problem.” Honig continued. “A pro-Colorado, anti-Trump outcome doesn’t settle anything beyond the borders of the Rocky Mountain State. If the Court does leave disqualification up to the states, then every state’s determination becomes fodder for litigation: Did this state abide by its own procedures and afford Trump due process?

“The Supreme Court would essentially have to consider (or refuse to consider) each state’s disqualification determination, one by one — and there are around three dozen such challenges making their way through various administrative agencies and courts. Do you see a world where the Supreme Court invites that outcome? I don’t,” he added.

“If the Court wants to issue one definitive ruling that will resolve all 14th Amendment challenges nationwide, it has two pathways — and both of them result in Trump victories,” Honig wrote.

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“First, the Supreme Court could rule that only Congress has the authority to set procedures for application of the 14th Amendment and that, in the absence of such enabling legislation, the states are out of luck,” he continued, noting that Section 5 of the 14th Amendment says that “Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”

“Second, the Court might rule that the 14th Amendment does not apply to the presidency. On one hand, the Amendment’s text does delineate certain offices — senators, representatives, even presidential electors — but not the president,” he noted, though he speculated that the authors of the amendment certainly wanted it to apply to the presidency as well.

“Whatever happens, we’ll know much more about the constitutional insurrectionist ban when this is all over,” he concluded.


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