Supreme Court Gives Clues in Huge Trump Eligibility Case
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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday morning in the landmark case against former President Donald Trump and whether he should be disqualified from seeking office in 2024.
At issue is whether Colorado's top court was correct in applying a post-Civil War provision of the Constitution to bump Trump off the ballot, after claiming his actions around the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol amounted to "insurrection".
After hearing arguments in the Trump vs. Anderson ballot case, the Supreme Court could rule at any time over whether the insurrection provision in the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment disqualifies the former president.
Trump Attorney Jonathan Mitchell argued before the high court saying, "The Colorado Supreme Court's decision is wrong and should be reversed."
Trump's lawyers contend January 6th was an unorganized riot, not a planned insurrection.
"This was a riot, it was not an insurrection. The events were shameful, criminal, violent, all of those things, but it did not qualify as an insurrection," Mitchell argued.
Jason Murray, the plaintiff's attorney representing Colorado, disagreed, arguing the former president did indeed commit insurrection. He specifically addressed the Fourteenth Amendment as precedent.
"What they were concerned most about was ensuring that insurrectionists and rebels don't hold office," Murray said. "I would note that if President Trump were appointed to an office today if he were appointed as a state judge, he could not hold that office."
Throughout the arguments, all nine justices appeared skeptical of whether or not states have the authority to remove Trump from the ballot under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said, "I think that the question you have to confront is why a single state should decide who gets to be president of the U.S. In other words, this question of whether a former president is disqualified for insurrection to be president again is just say it, it sounds awfully national to me."
Murray replied, "No your honor because ultimately, it's this court that will decide that question of federal constitutional eligibility and settle the issue for the nation."
Legal experts believe the Supreme Court offered clues about how the justices are leaning, predicting the high court seems unlikely to rule in favor of Colorado's attempt to keep Trump off the ballot.
For example, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Joe Biden nominee, pointed out during arguments today that the Fourteenth Amendment did not mention the word "president," seemingly agreeing with Trump's legal team.
"They were listing people that were barred and 'president' is not there," Jackson said of the amendment. "I guess that just makes me worry that maybe they weren't focused on the president."
Trump's attorney Mitchell said, "A state cannot exclude any candidate from federal office from the ballot on account of section 3, and any state that does so is violating the holding of term limits by altering the Constitution's qualifications for federal office."
President Trump says he's leaving his fate up to the justices.
"The argument I thought was really strong was the question of can you take the person that's leading everywhere and say hey, we're not going to let you run. I think that's very hard to do but I'm going to leave it up to the Supreme Court," he said.
With the Colorado GOP primary set for March 5, we will likely see an expedited decision from the Supreme Court on this case.
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