Home / News / Trump’s presidential bid hangs in the balance in a Supreme Court case that breaks new legal ground – Chicago Tribune

Trump’s presidential bid hangs in the balance in a Supreme Court case that breaks new legal ground – Chicago Tribune

Written by: NICHOLAS RICCARDI (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The fate of former President Donald Trump’s attempt to return to the White House is in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Thursday, the justices will hear Trump’s appeal of a Colorado Supreme Court ruling that he cannot run for president again because he violates a provision in the 14th Amendment that bars “participants of insurrection” from holding office.

Many legal observers expect the nation’s highest court to overturn the Colorado ruling rather than remove the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination from the ballot. But trying to predict a Supreme Court decision is always difficult, and the case against Trump has already broken new legal ground.

Some of the main issues involved in 14th Amendment cases:

It’s called Chapter 3 and it’s pretty short. He writes:

“No person previously sworn in as a member shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or an elector of the President or Vice-President, or hold any civil or military office within the United States or any State. He shall, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of the legislature of any State, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, in support of the Constitution of the United States. likewise, or to give aid or consolation to his enemies. But Congress may remove any such impediment by a vote of two-thirds of each House.”

Nice and simple, right?

Trump’s lawyers say not so fast.

Trump’s lawyers say that part of the Constitution does not apply to the President. Notice how he specifically mentions electors, senators, and representatives, but not the presidency.

It also says those who take an oath to “support” the United States, but the presidential oath does not use that word. Instead, the Constitution requires presidents to say that they will “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution. And finally, Section 3 mentions any other “officer” of the United States, but Trump’s lawyers argue that the language should apply to presidential appointees, not the president.

That was enough to convince the Colorado district court judge who first heard the case. He found that Trump was involved in the riot, but also agreed that it was not clear whether the 3rd Amendment applied to the president. This part of his decision was overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court.

The majority of the state’s highest court wrote: “President Trump asks us to hold that Section 3 disqualifies every oath-breaker, except the most powerful, and bars oath-breakers from nearly every office, both state and federal, except the highest offices.” wants. one in the country.”

Trump’s lawyers argue that the question of who falls under a rarely used, once-obscure clause should be decided by Congress, not unelected judges. They claim that the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 was not an insurrection. They say the attack was not widespread, did not involve a large quantity of firearms or other signs of rioting. They say Trump was “not engaged” in anything that day other than exercising his protected free speech rights.

Others skeptical of the application of the 3rd Amendment to Trump made an argument that the dissenting Colorado Supreme Court justices also found persuasive: The way the court found that Trump violated the 3rd Amendment violated the former president’s due process rights. They argue that he is entitled to a structured legal process rather than a court in Colorado trying to figure out whether the Constitution applies to him.

This points to the unprecedented nature of the cases. Chapter 3 was rarely used after congressional amnesty in 1872 excluded most former Confederate members. The U.S. Supreme Court has never heard a case like this.

Controversy over legal precedent dates back to the single opinion of Chief Judge Salmon Chase in 1869, who heard the appeal as a circuit judge rather than to the high court.

The Trump case is a historic case and is expected to create new law.

Not exactly. Many Democrats support kicking Trump off the ballot, and many Republicans are angry about the campaign against him. The lawsuit was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning group.

But some of the most vocal advocates of removing Trump from the ballot are conservative lawyers who believe in following the strict letter of the Constitution. Those who argue that there is no way Trump could be disqualified from the insurrection add that it exists in plain text and was designed by the authors. The plaintiffs in Colorado are all Republicans or unaffiliated voters.

All seven justices on the Colorado Supreme Court were appointed by Democrats. However, they split 4-3 on the decision; a stark indication that this cause is not neatly divided along partisan lines.

The majority cited a decision by Neil Gorsuch, one of Trump’s conservative Supreme Court nominees, when he was a federal judge in Colorado. It later ruled that the state excluded a naturalized citizen born in Guyana from the presidential vote because he did not meet constitutional qualifications.

In Maine, the Democratic secretary of state also removed Trump from the vote. But in Illinois, a retired Republican judge who served as a hearing officer for the state Board of Elections suggested Trump remain in office, but only because he thought the courts should rule on eligibility. The retired judge found that Trump was likely disqualified because of Section 3, making him a notable Republican alongside those trying to remove the former president from office.

The U.S. Supreme Court consists of six justices nominated by Republican presidents, including three by Trump. Partly because this is completely new legal ground, it is difficult to predict how individual judges will rule based on their own ideology.

Various outcomes are possible, but they generally fall into three areas.

First, the court could uphold Colorado’s decision. This will require plaintiffs to prevail on Trump’s entire defense.

Second, the court could rule that Trump cannot be disqualified under Section 3. There are many ways the court could do this, but the result would be to put an end to the lawsuit against him, as well as dozens of similar challenges filed across the country.

The third possibility frustrates many legal experts. The court can effectively gamble and not make a final decision on whether Trump is fit to serve as president. If he wins the election and Congress has to decide whether to confirm his victory, that could push the question to January 6, 2025.

It will also keep alive many challenges across the country. Some of this is pending as state courts wait to see what the U.S. Supreme Court will do. Illinois, Minnesota and Oregon are among the places where challenges to Trump could be reignited if the high court doesn’t silence them. That could create more pressure to challenge Trump’s standing on the ballot in other Democratic strongholds like California and New York, where pushes to override Trump’s candidacy have been relatively muted.

Although the Trump campaign says more than 60 Chapter 3 lawsuits have been filed across the country, most of them are filed by low-profile individuals and are often dismissed due to procedural issues. Uncertainty in the nation’s highest court could spur a new wave of lawsuits in those states as well.

The lack of a clear decision can also create counter-challenges. Republicans have warned that Section 3 could also apply to Democrats.

Some have suggested filing lawsuits against Biden, on the theory that his failure to stem the flow of migrants at the US-Mexico border amounts to providing “aid and comfort” to the country’s enemies. Vice President Kamala Harris may also be targeted over the theory that collecting bail money for people arrested during protests over the 2020 death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police amounts to “participating in the insurrection.”

They warn that Trump’s trial could be just the beginning unless the high court shuts it down.

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