Why Trump Remains on the Ballot

The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that former President and current Republican Primary Presidential candidate Donald Trump will remain on all of the relevant election ballots, overruling the Colorado State Supreme Court directly and Maine’s Secretary of State by extension. The Court’s reasoning is important. From the ruling’s second paragraph:

Because the Constitution makes Congress, rather than the States, responsible for enforcing Section 3 [of the 14th Amendment] against federal officeholders and candidates, we reverse.

The Court expanded on this, quoting Chief Justice Samuel Chase in his 1869 Griffin’s Case ruling:

[t]o accomplish this ascertainment [of which person[s] are explicitly barred under Section 3] and ensure effective results, proceedings, evidence, decisions, and enforcements of decisions, more or less formal, are indispensable.

The Supreme Court went on:

The Constitution empowers Congress to prescribe how those determinations should be made. The relevant provision is Section 5 [of the 14th Amendment], which enables Congress, subject of course to judicial review, to pass “appropriate legislation” to “enforce” the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Court concluded [emphasis in the original]:

We conclude that States may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office. But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency.

The three modern-day liberal/activist Justices, Sonya Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown

Jackson, while concurring in the overall judgment that Trump stays on the ballot(s), were superficially Roberts-esque in their dissent from the sweeping nature of the Court’s ruling. They began by quoting from Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization:

If it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case, then it is necessary not to decide more.

But only superficially: they then wrote [citations omitted],

Today, the Court departs from that vital principle, deciding not just this case, but challenges that might arise in the future. … They decide novel constitutional questions to insulate this Court and petitioner from future controversy. Although only an individual State’s action is at issue here, the majority opines on which federal actors can enforce Section 3, and how they must do so. The majority announces that a disqualification for insurrection can occur only when Congress enacts a particular kind of legislation pursuant to Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. In doing so, the majority shuts the door on other potential means of federal enforcement. We cannot join an opinion that decides momentous and difficult issues unnecessarily, and we therefore concur only in the judgment.

[S]huts the door on other potential means: This is the activist Justices’ desire to keep this controversy alive, to keep a Presidential candidate of whom they have only contempt facing a constant and long-lasting barrage of cases seeking nothing more than to interfere in our 2024 election by interfering with a major and leading (redundancy deliberate) political candidate’s ability to campaign freely. And thereby to deny to us ordinary Americans our ability, our right, to decide for ourselves who we will choose for our President. These Justices do this solely because they personally disapprove of the particular candidate.


The Court’s ruling can be read here.

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