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The Supreme Court Is About To Weigh In On Trump’s Ballot Eligibility. Here’s What You Need To Know

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  • The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Thursday in Trump v. Anderson, the former president’s appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision finding him ineligible to appear on the state’s ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
  • The ruling will resolve dozens of lawsuits and challenges to Trump’s eligibility in various states, including in Maine, where the state’s top court declined to rule on the secretary of state’s decision to remove Trump from the ballot before the Supreme Court issues its decision.
  • Trump’s brief notes that “more than 60 lawsuits or administrative challenges” have been filed.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday about efforts to remove former President Donald Trump from the 2024 election ballot.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in December that Trump should be disqualified from the state’s primary ballot because he took an oath to the Constitution and then engaged in “insurrection” in violation of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The court issued its ruling after a lower court judge declined to remove him from the ballot, finding he did engage in insurrection but was not an “officer of the United States” subject to disqualification under Section 3.

The left-wing donor backed group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) filed the lawsuit in September on behalf of six Republican and two unaffiliated voters, including 91-year old former Republican state legislator Norma Anderson. They argued Trump should be removed from the ballot for his alleged role in “recruiting, inciting and encouraging a violent mob ” on Jan. 6, 2021.

The voters told the Supreme Court in a brief that the former president “fails to even acknowledge (much less to rebut) the most damning evidence against him.”

“The thrust of Trump’s position is less legal than it is political,” they wrote. “He not-so-subtly threatens ‘bedlam’ if he is not on the ballot.”

Trump’s brief raises five counter arguments in his brief: that he is not an “officer of the United States,” that he did not “engage in insurrection,” that only Congress can enforce Section 3, the amendment only prohibits holding office rather than appearing on the ballot and that the ruling violates Colorado’s election code.

“No prosecutor has attempted to charge President Trump with insurrection under 28 U.S.C. § 2383 in the three years since January 6, 2021, despite the relentless and ongoing investigations of President Trump,” Trump argues in his brief. “And for good reason: President Trump’s words that day called for peaceful and patriotic protest and respect for law and order.”

Trump was kept on the primary ballot on Colorado’s Jan. 5 certification deadline because the ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, his brief notes that “more than 60 lawsuits or administrative challenges” have been filed to remove Trump from the ballot in various states.

Some state courts and election officials, including those in California and Michigan, have rejected bids to remove Trump from the ballot. A number of federal judges have also tossed challenges to his eligibility brought by the little-known presidential candidate John Anthony Castro.

The Maine Supreme Court declined late January to weigh in on whether Trump should be disqualified from the state’s ballot before the Supreme Court. Maine’s Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows ruled he is ineligible Dec. 28.

John Yoo, law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, told the Daily Caller News Foundation it’s unlikely the justices will reach the question of whether Trump “engaged in an insurrection,” but predicted they would rule on one or several of the other arguments raised by Trump.

“It gets the courts out of the job of picking and choosing who gets to be on the ballot and returns the election back to the people,” he said. “So the November election will be decided at the ballot box and not the courthouse.”

Yoo said he think’s Trump’s strongest argument is that the text of the 14th Amendment just doesn’t cover presidents.

Twenty-seven states urged the justices to ensure Trump stays on the ballot, warning that the Colorado decision “threatens to throw the 2024 presidential election into chaos.”

“Now that the Colorado court has intruded into an arena where courts previously have feared to tread, swift intervention is essential,” the states told the Supreme Court.

Sen. Ted Cruz and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, along with 177 other members of Congress, likewise filed a brief in support of Trump, arguing the Colorado Supreme Court “short-circuited” Congress’ roles  in enforcing Section 3 and authorizing a candidate otherwise ineligible under Section 3 to hold office.

The Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold argued in a brief that Colorado has the authority to “exclude ineligible insurrectionists from its presidential primary ballot.”

“Limiting the ballot to candidates qualified to hold office, as Colorado’s law does, is not discriminatory because the qualifications for holding office apply equally to all candidates and all parties,” her brief argues.

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