The United States Supreme Court will enter “uncharted legal territory” on Thursday by beginning hearings in a case that will decide whether former President Donald Trump can be removed from the Colorado state primary ballot, according to a provision of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution little discussed by the Supreme Court, experts said.
“What’s really interesting is that the Supreme Court has never dealt with it before this part of the 14th Amendment. And a lot of times, when the Supreme Court makes decisions, they use past precedents to help guide their way forward, and in this case, they don’t know because it hasn’t been seen yet—a legal territory they are entering,” he said. Voice of America Jessica Schoenherr is an associate professor at the University of South Carolina.
Trump, the favorite for the Republican presidential nomination according to the polls, was disqualified as a candidate in the Colorado process before the November election, according to the decision of the Supreme Court of that state.
on his decision last December justices ruled that the former president was “disqualified” from holding public office according to the provision contained in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits anyone who commits acts of “insurrection or rebellion” in the legal process from applying for federal positions and, in this case, to the White House.
Trump is accused of being responsible for encouraging the crowd of his supporters to attack the Capitol on January 6, 2021, to stop the certification of the results of the 2020 election, where he lost again to the current president, Joe Biden.
The constitutional provision was added after the Civil War to prevent those accused of rebellion against the US government from later being elected as officials. “This part of the 14th Amendment has been forgotten; it’s not a cause for concern for a long time,” added Schoenherr, an expert on judicial affairs and the Supreme Court.
The US Supreme Court agreed to hear the case later. Trump’s legal team will appeal and ask the nation’s highest legal institution to review the Colorado ruling. The case is one of the most complex because of its potential impact in an election year. The Supreme Court will hear it with a conservative majority, with three judges appointed by the former president himself when he was in power.
Like Colorado, like the territories Maine and Minnesota They also take this issue to their courts or public officials.
Regarding the course of this Court’s case, Schoenherr acknowledged that, due to its unprecedented nature, it is very difficult to make predictions. “There’s nothing to look at because there’s no pattern. So it’s one of those times where you’re not sure, ideologically, that it’s going to match up like you think, that all the conservatives are in one some and the liberal others,” he warned.
This could be “one of those instances where their (judges’) legal education plays an important role in the way they make a decision,” the professor said.
“I think the court can get away with it by saying that each state can make its own decision or talk about whether or not Trump participated in an insurrection, which is the real heart of the question here,” he said. Schoenherr.
The case has generated controversy and generated criticism, even from staunch detractors of grandstanding such as former New Jersey governor and former Republican presidential contender Chris Christie, who said he is against disqualification because it is “something that should be left to the voters and not in court.”
“We are a democracy; we leave a lot of things to the voters, and this also shows that the voters have a lot of confidence. Those who have a lot of fear about what will happen if he (Trump) appears on the ballot,” concluded Schoenherr.
What is Donald Trump accused of?
The lawsuit seeks to disqualify Trump from Colorado’s Republican primaries, presented for the first time in September 2023 by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), on behalf of six Republican and independent voters.
“We believe that the former president has disqualified himself from office. “We are working to vindicate the rights of our clients to ensure that a constitutionally disqualified candidate who incites an insurrection against the Capitol of the United States cannot hold office again,” he said. VOA Donald Sherman, Senior Vice President and Senior Advisor, CREW.
Trump is now facing two trials, one federal in Washington and another state in Georgia, accusing him of alleged interference in the election due to his participation in the events of January 6, 2021.
Sherman asserted that the intentions behind the case were to “keep away” from the political lens and be limited to the Constitution’s determination of who would be president of the United States. Some of the limitations include, for example, being a natural citizen of the country, being old enough, or being president for two terms.
“The Constitution says that you cannot be an insurrectionist who does not respect his oath and hold high government positions again, including the presidency. It’s that simple,” Sherman said.
Trump’s lawyers argued that the presidency was not covered by the insurrection clause of the Constitution and defended the fact that the former president had never participated in an insurrection. “The Court must quickly and decisively end these vote disqualification efforts, which threaten to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans and promise to unleash chaos,” the defense wrote before the Supreme Court.
For Sherman, this rationale is invalid in the case presented by his organization. “Donald Trump believes he’s above the law; our lawsuit and most of these issues are really about making sure the law applies to everyone. Whether you’re a famous former president or an ordinary person on the street,”
The senior vice president of CREW noted that they are “ready” for the Supreme Court to hear the arguments as well as to “accept the result.”
“I know that if we succeed, Donald Trump will be off the ballot in Colorado; he will be found disqualified and will have to retire,” Sherman concluded.