Ballot battle: Colorado vs Trump
Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, DC, shares his perspective on US politics.
Is the Colorado Supreme Court going to block Trump from appearing on the ballot there?
The answer is probably not, but they might. The Colorado Supreme Court, this week, ruled that former President Trump, cannot appear on the Colorado ballot on the grounds that he engaged in insurrection against the United States, which under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, bars a political candidate from appearing for federal office. Now, the Supreme Court is almost certainly going to take this issue up. This is a precedent that will be set for other states who are also trying to bar Trump from appearing on the ballot at all. And this puts the Supreme Court in a really difficult position. The court does not want to be in a position to intervene in what it sees as very political questions.
The most prominent example of them getting involved was, of course, the Bush v. Gore case in 2000, which basically handed the presidential election to then President Bush as they had to resolve a very narrow set of differences over what counted as a legitimate ballot in Florida. And in this case, the court is once again going to be asked to make a very political decision about who can run for president. The courts would much prefer that the political branches of the government make this determination, including Congress. And one legal argument they've made is that the 14th Amendment is not self-executing, but would in fact require Congress to step up and define what it means to commit insurrection against the United States.
There are multiple paths for the court to defer on this question, including the idea that the Senate has already acquitted President Trump of inciting an insurrection against the United States. But this is not an obvious position for the court to be in. They are certainly going to come out of this looking more politicized one way or the other. Either they bar the most popular and prominent Republican candidate from appearing on the ballot, which Republicans are going to say, suggest that we live in a banana republic, or they're going to say that Trump can go ahead and appear on the ballot, which will make Democrats to say, well, the court is completely politicized because the six Republican-appointed judges will always obviously going to side with the Republican presidential nominee.
A decision in this case could come quite quickly as the Colorado ballot deadline is approaching in early January and the court is going to need to weigh in here in order to set precedent for other states that are looking at doing something similar to what Colorado did.
So yet another unprecedented piece of a Trump presidential story is this case and Trump's norm, destroying political career continues to challenge the very foundations of the American Constitution. So lots to watch here. Stay tuned.