The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday is scheduled to hear arguments in a Colorado case on whether former President Trump’s deep involvement in the deadly events of Jan. 6, 2021, should disqualify him from running again.
Unfortunately, I think it’s a safe bet that the Court’s conservative majority will side with Trump and allow his name on the ballot. This is the least difficult solution for the Court, mired in scandals of its own making and no doubt reluctant to add fuel to the American partisan political fire that rages during the year. electoral.
I have had mixed feelings about this case since the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in December that allowing Trump on the ballot in the state would violate Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which, in short, prohibits to anyone who engaged in or supported an insurrection against the United States. government to remain in office.
Many of Trump’s legal allies have argued that Section 3 does not apply to him, saying for example that the president is not an “officer” of the United States, or that Section 3 only prohibits a candidate of holding office, not while searching he. But as the ragtag group of Colorado voters who filed suit against Trump said, it’s a “pedantic pun” not to apply Article 3 to Trump.
The former president, driven by narcissism and power, showed little respect for the rule of law, the Constitution or the American people. And yet, part of me thinks that allowing him to remain on the electoral roll would be the healthiest solution for the country.
Trump is expected to get beaten up by President Biden in November, then run. On the other hand, he has already was hit in 2020, and by shamelessly lying to his supporters, he turned his defeat into a cause celebre and an ongoing national nightmare.
Not to mention a civics lesson in progress for most of us, who can be forgiven for not knowing until now what Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says.
“Let’s be real,” Yale historian David Blight told NPR last week. “Section 3 had all but disappeared from history, and it was suddenly resurrected from the dead.”
Blight, along with Civil War historians Jill Lepore, Drew Gilpin Faust and John Fabian Witt, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Colorado case, arguing that Section 3 applies to Trump and prevents him from running for office again.
“Nobody likes the idea of Article 3 being applied in this case,” Lepore told NPR. “There is no joy to be had, there is no triumph in removing Trump from the ballot. But that’s what the Constitution says. And it is a court committed to upholding the original intent, meaning, and public understanding of the Constitution.
The 14th Amendment, introduced in 1866 to combat widespread and often violent discrimination against America’s former slaves, promises all citizens equal protection under the law.
At the time, as historians write in their memoirs, the deep national wounds caused by the civil war were still raw. Americans on the winning side were in no mood to totally forgive and forget, and the idea that some secessionists could be elected to Congress after betraying the union was disturbing, even abhorrent.
Could a traitor like Jefferson Davis, first and only president of the Confederate States of America and former member of the Mississippi Senate and House of Representatives, run for office?
There was, Lepore told NPR, “an incredible terror on the part of Jefferson Davis in particular, that he was running for president.”
Section 3, the “disqualification clause,” was designed to prevent this from happening. Over time, as Blight noted, the section became something of a historical relic. And then the unthinkable happened.
A U.S. president who lost his re-election campaign attempted to overturn the results of a fair election and remain in power against the will of the people, resulting in criminal charges at the state and government level federal.
In Georgia, Trump was charged with 13 counts of illegally conspiring to change the outcome of the election while engaging in a “criminal enterprise.” Federal prosecutors charged him with conspiracy to defraud the government and disenfranchise voters, as well as obstructing an official proceeding regarding his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
From the beginning, Trump has asserted that a president can do whatever he wants and get away with it.
This is not the case, a federal appeals court unanimously ruled Tuesday. “Any executive immunity that might have protected him while he was president no longer protects him from these prosecutions,” the court wrote regarding the federal case against Trump, which said it would appeal to the Supreme Court.
The High Court, whose ultraconservative majority has repeatedly proclaimed its originalism, will have to decide both the question of the Colorado ballot and the limits – or not – of presidential immunity. Will the judges choose Trump or the rule of law?
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