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Can Trump be on the ballot? This is the Supreme Court’s biggest election test since Bush v. Gore


WASHINGTON (AP): A potentially disruptive affair Donald Trumpthe desire to return to the White House puts the Supreme Court uncomfortably at the center of the 2024 presidential campaign.
In Thursday’s arguments, the justices will grapple, for the first time, with a constitutional provision adopted after the civil war to prevent former officials who “engaged in insurrection” from returning to power.
It is the Court’s most direct involvement in a presidential election since Bush v. Gore, a decision a quarter-century ago that effectively delivered the 2000 election to Republican George W. Bush. This is a court that has been rocked by criticism over ethics, which led the justices to adopt their first code of conduct in November, and at a time when public approval of the court is diminished, to near record levels in the polls.

The dispute stems from pressure from Republican and independent voters in Colorado to expel Trump from the state’s Republican primary ballot because of his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, culminating in the attack on 6 January 2021 against the United States. Capitol.

Colorado’s highest court has determined that Trump incited riots in the nation’s capital and is therefore ineligible to run for president and should not be on the ballot for the state’s primary on June 5. March.

A victory by Colorado voters would amount to a declaration by judges, including three appointed by Trump when he was president, that he did indeed engage in insurrection and is barred by the 14th Amendment from serving its functions again. This would allow states to exclude him from the ballot and jeopardize his campaign. A final ruling in Trump’s favor would largely end efforts in Colorado, Maine and elsewhere to keep his name from appearing on the ballot. The justices could opt for a less conclusive result, but with the understanding that the issue could return to them, perhaps after the November general election and in the midst of a full-blown constitutional crisis.

The court said it would try to act quickly, significantly shortening the period in which it would receive written information and present its arguments in the courtroom.

Trump separately appealed in state court a ruling by Maine’s Democratic Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, that he was ineligible to appear on that state’s ballot because of his role in the attack on the Capitol. The decisions of the Colorado Supreme Court and the Maine Secretary of State are stayed until the appeals are heard.

The former president is not expected to attend the Supreme Court session next week, although he showed up for court proceedings in the civil and criminal suits he is fighting.

Whatever the justices decide, they will likely see more of Trump, who faces criminal charges related to Jan. 6 and other issues. Other election-related disputes are also possible.

In 2000, in Bush v. Gore, the court and the parties were divided on whether the justices should intervene.

The conservative 5-4 decision has been heavily criticized since, especially since the court warned against using the case as precedent when the unsigned majority opinion stated that “our review is limited to the circumstances current”.

In this case, both parties want the matter to be resolved, and quickly.

Trump’s campaign declined to make anyone available for this story, but his lawyers urged the judges not to delay.

“The Court should bring a swift and decisive end to these efforts to disqualify ballots, which threaten to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans and which promise to unleash chaos and mayhem if further Courts and state officials are following Colorado’s lead and ruling out the likely Republican presidential run. candidate on their ballots,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

Donald Sherman, the lead lawyer for the group behind the challenge to the vote, said voters and election officials need to get an answer quickly.

“And I think, obviously, voters have a significant interest in whether the Supreme Court believes, as does any investigator who has addressed this issue, that January 6 was an insurrection and that Donald Trump is an insurrectionist,” said Sherman. in an interview with the Associated Press. He is executive vice president and chief legal counsel of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Justice Clarence Thomas is the only member of the court to serve in Bush v. Gore. He was part of this majority.

But three other justices joined the legal battle alongside Bush: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Bush ultimately placed Roberts before a federal appeals court, then appointed him chief justice. Bush hired Kavanaugh for important White House positions before also appointing him as an appellate judge.

Kavanaugh and Barrett were elevated to the Supreme Court by Trump, who also nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Thomas has ignored calls from some Democratic lawmakers and ethics professors to recuse himself from the current case. They note that his wife, Ginni Thomas, supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Ginni Thomas repeatedly texted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the weeks that followed that election, once calling it a “heist,” and she attended the rally before Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Nearly two years later, she told the congressional committee investigating the attack that she regretted sending the texts.

Trump has lost 60 different legal challenges over his false claims that there was massive voter fraud that changed the results of this election.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled against Trump and his allies in lawsuits related to the 2020 election, as well as his efforts to block documents related to Jan. 6 and his tax returns from being released to congressional committees.

But the conservative majority consolidated by Trump appointees produced decisions that overturned the five-decade-old constitutional right to abortion, expanded gun rights, and rolled back affirmative action in college admissions .

The question of whether Trump can appear on the ballot is just one of several questions related to the former president or Jan. 6 that have come before the high court. The justices rejected special counsel Jack Smith’s request to rule quickly on Trump’s claims that he is immune from prosecution, even though the issue could soon return to court depending on the decision of a appeals court based in Washington.

In April, the court will hear an appeal that could overturn hundreds of charges stemming from the Capitol riot, including against Trump.

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