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Supreme Court Review of the 14th Amendment

A historical case, Donald J. Trump v. Norma Anderson, had a Supreme Court hearing on February 8th, 2024, that could affect Donald Trump’s ability to run for election this year. This case focused on the interpretation of the Disqualification Clause found in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, that if certain former elected and appointed officials took part in an insurrection, they are barred from holding office.

By starting this lawsuit, Colorado voters sought to prevent President Trump from running in the 2024 election due to his participation in the January 5th, 2021 events. On appeal, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 majority opinion, reversing the district court's ruling on December 19th, 2023, in which the Colorado Supreme Court stated that Trump could not run in the state’s upcoming primary election under the Disqualification Clause. This amendment clause was also invoked by the secretaries of the states of Illinois and Maine to keep Trump off the state ballots.

The clause specifically states that, “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

The dissenting opinion, first from Chief Justice Brian Boatright, was that “whether a candidate engaged in insurrection” is not up to the Colorado election code. Similarly, Justice Maria Berkenkotter wrote that state courts were not granted powers to decide Section 3 cases. Additionally, Carlos Samour believed that Trump had not received due process of law and there was no federal legislation enabling the enforcement of Section 3. 

On January 4th, 2024, the Colorado Supreme Court appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Accepted on January 5th, the question of the case was, “Did the Colorado Supreme Court err in ordering President Trump excluded from the 2024 presidential primary ballot?”. The SCOTUS brought up questions, Justice Kagan posed the question whether one state should decide on behalf of the country who should be president. Jason Murray’s assertion that there was no ambiguity in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was challenged by Justice Jackson. Justice Roberts warned that some states will read the Court’s decision in favor of the plaintiffs as permission to bar Republicans or Democrats from running for office, and of the “daunting consequences” that may ensue if only a handful of states decide the President of the United States. 

There is no set deadline to decide whether former President Donald Trump is eligible for the ballot in Colorado. Since March 5th, 2024, is Colorado state's primary election, votes made in Trump’s favor remain active since Trump was not declared ineligible for public office. Without a ruling from the Supreme Court, there is no guarantee that voters who elect Donald Trump will have their vote counted and whether Trump's name could appear on the general election ballots in November.


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