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US Supreme Court keeps Trump on Colorado ballot, rejects 14th Amendment proposal

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that former President Donald Trump should appear on Colorado’s ballot, a decision that follows months of debate over whether the front-runner for the nomination Republican Party had violated the “insurrection clause” included in the 14th Amendment.

The opinion constitutes a massive victory for Trump, eliminating one of the many legal threats that have plagued and animated his campaign against President Joe Biden. Although the ruling has no impact on the four ongoing criminal cases Trump faces, including the federal election subversion case which covers some of the same conduct surrounding January 6, 2021.

The court was unanimous in the idea that Trump could not be unilaterally excluded from the vote.

But the justices were divided on the magnitude of the decision. A 5-4 majority said no state could keep a federal candidate off a ballot — but four justices said the court should have limited its opinion.

The ruling, which marked the first time the high court weighed Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, came a day before Super Tuesday, when 16 states and territories, including Colorado, will hold nominating contests.

Using the 14th Amendment to derail Trump’s candidacy was always seen as a long-shot legal endeavor, but it gained significant momentum with a victory before Colorado’s highest court in December en route to the Court Supreme Court of the United States. Since that decision, Trump has also been barred from running in Maine and Illinois.

Courts and legal groups had been debating for months the meaning of the post-Civil War provision at the center of the case, a text that bars certain officials who took an oath to support the Constitution — then engaged in the insurrection – to resume their functions. The key provision, known as Article 3, was originally intended to prevent former Confederates from regaining power.

But there was considerable uncertainty about what this ban meant and how it should be enforced. Several conservative and liberal justices raised fundamental questions during the February 8 debates over Colorado’s fairness, effectively answering those questions for the rest of the country.

Trump has ridiculed the 14th Amendment lawsuits that have cropped up across the country and regularly complains that they are an unconstitutional affront pursued by Democrats who want to remove him from the ballot rather than compete with him in November. His lawyers argued that it would be “un-American” to deprive voters of the opportunity to decide whether Trump should return to the White House.

Similar 14th Amendment challenges against Trump have been rejected – all on procedural grounds – in Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts and Oregon. But in Colorado, a series of rulings by state courts led Trump to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in January.

A liberal-leaning watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a lawsuit against Colorado in September on behalf of six Republican and independent voters, led by Norma Anderson, 91, a pioneering former Republican lawmaker. State. They sued Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and asked a judge to force her to remove Trump’s name from the state’s GOP primary ballot.

A Colorado district judge presided over a weeklong trial before concluding in November that even if Trump “engaged in insurrection,” he should remain on the ballot because the ban did not apply. not to presidents. The Colorado Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote, upheld the findings about Trump’s role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but said the ban actually applied to presidents.

Only three states had removed Trump from the ballot due to the “insurrection ban.”

Besides Colorado, Maine’s top election official reached a similar conclusion and determined that Trump was constitutionally barred from office. Trump appealed, and a state court stayed the proceedings while the Supreme Court addressed the Colorado case.

An Illinois judge also excluded Trump from the ballot in that state on the same grounds on January 6, although implementation of that ruling has been put on hold pending possible appeals.

It appeared during the Supreme Court arguments that Trump would win. Conservatives on the Court most likely to be skeptical of the former president, like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, fired relatively friendly questions at Trump lawyer Jonathan Mitchell . When the lawyer representing the voters stood up, the questions became much more pointed and insistent.

And it wasn’t just conservatives who seemed to be on the attack: Justices Elena Kagan, an appointee of President Barack Obama, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Biden pick, also focused on some of the arguments raised by Trump in his memoirs.

“The question you have to ask is why should a single state decide who is president of the United States,” Kagan urged Jason Murray, who represented the challengers. “Why should a single state have the ability to make this decision not only for its own citizens but also for the rest of the nation?


This story has been updated with additional developments.

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