90 Miles From Tyranny : SCOTUS Unanimously Rules States Cannot Disqualify Trump from 2024 Ballot

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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

SCOTUS Unanimously Rules States Cannot Disqualify Trump from 2024 Ballot

WASHINGTON, DC – Colorado cannot disqualify former President Donald Trump from appearing on the 2024 ballot, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday.

In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court said only Congress can disqualify a candidate from the ballot using the Fourteenth Amendment’s “Insurrection Clause,” overturning a 4-3 opinion in December from the Colorado Supreme Court that the provision prohibits former President Donald Trump from appearing on the ballot for the presidency in 2024.

That ruling partially reversed a prior ruling in November that Trump is not an officer of the United States as defined by the Fourteenth Amendment and that the Amendment therefore cannot be used to disqualify him from appearing on the Colorado primary ballot.

This is the first time the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The court wrote:
Proposed by Congress in 1866 and ratified by the States in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment expanded federal power at the expense of state autonomy and thus fundamentally altered the balance of state and federal power struck by the Constitution. […]
The court continued:

Section 3 works by imposing on certain individuals a preventive and severe penalty—disqualification from holding a wide array of offices—rather than by granting rights to all. It is therefore necessary, as Chief Justice Chase concluded and the Colorado Supreme Court itself recognized, to ‘ascertain what particular individuals are embraced’ by the provision. […]

Chase went on to explain that to accomplish this ascertainment and ensure effective results, proceedings, evidence, decisions, and enforcements of decisions, more or less formal, are indispensable. […]

The Constitution empowers Congress to prescribe how those determinations should be made. The relevant provision is Section 5, which enables Congress, subject of course to judicial review, to pass “appropriate legislation” to “enforce” the Fourteenth Amendment. […]
The court went on to note that Congress did so by passing the Enforcement Act of 1870.
This case raises the question whether the States, in addition to Congress, may also enforce Section 3. 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. […]

Granting the States that authority would invert the Fourteenth Amendment’s rebalancing of federal and state power. […]

Nor have the respondents identified any tradition of state enforcement of Section 3 against federal officeholders or candidates in the years following ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. Such a lack of historical precedent is generally a telling indication of a severe constitutional problem with the asserted power. […]

The patchwork that would likely result from state enforcement would sever the direct link that the Framers found so critical between the National Government and the people of the United States as a whole. […]
Barrett said that the majority decided more than necessary, and she doesn’t want to join that.

However, she also says, “All nine Justices agree on the outcome of this case. That is the message Americans should take home.”

“In our view, each of these reasons is necessary to provide a complete explanation for...

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