Will the U.S.Supreme Court Keep Donald Trump Off the Ballot ? Some Initial Thoughts

I am traveling and so I offer only some brief and initial thoughts here about what the United States Supreme Court may and should do in light of the Colorado Supreme Court’s determination that Donald Trump is ineligible to serve as president under Section 3 of the 14th amendment for encouraging insurrection. 

My bottom line is that the Colorado opinion is a serious and careful opinion that reaches a reasonable conclusion that Trump is disqualified. Nonetheless the opinion reaches many novel legal issues that the U.S. Supreme Court could decide the other way should that court reach the merits. (The three dissenters on the Colorado court did not really reach the merits.) Trump would need to prevail on only one of these legal issues to win on any appeal, so in some ways the legal odds are with him. 

It is far from clear that the U.S. Supreme Court will reach the merits—there are many legal doctrines like ripeness and mootness that would give the Court a way to avoid deciding the issues in the case. But it is imperative for the political stability of the U.S. to get a definitive judicial resolution of these questions as soon as possible. Voters need to know if the candidate they are supporting for President is eligible. And if we don’t get a final judicial  resolution before January 6, 2025 a Democratic-majority Congress could decide Trump is disqualified even if he appears to win the electoral college vote. That would be tremendously destabilizing. 

In the end the legal issues are close but the political ramifications of disqualification would be enormous. Once again the Supreme Court is being thrust into the center of a U.S. presidential election. But unlike in 2000 the general political instability in the United States makes the situation now much more precarious. 

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