Alito suggests argument being used to remove Trump from ballots can be used against Biden

 February 10, 2024

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito suggested that the argument that is being invoked to remove former President Donald Trump from 2024 ballots could be used against President Joe Biden. 

Alito did so, according to The Blaze, when he and the other members of the court heard oral arguments in the ballot removal case.

What's going on?

This past week, the justices of the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in which anti-Trump groups are attempting to prohibit Trump from appearing on 2024 general election ballots. Notably, Colorado and Maine have both banned Trump from their ballots.

The argument of these anti-Trump groups rests on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Generally, this provision of the Constitution prohibits an individual from holding office if the individual took a certain kind of oath and "engaged in insurrection." The claim is that Trump took such an oath when he became president and that he "engaged in insurrection" on Jan. 6, 2021.

The matter, however, is not so cut and dry. There are several questions that have to be considered, including whether the presidential oath taken by Trump suffices and whether Trump actually did engage in an insurrection - which requires one to define the word "insurrection."

The justices asked the lawyers about these difficulties - and others - during oral argument.

Alito's hypothetical

For those unfamiliar with what happens during oral argument, it is fairly common for the justices to raise hypotheticals to see how the principle of law that is being put forth might apply to future situations.

Alito posed such a hypothetical to Jason Murray - the lawyer representing those looking to prohibit Trump from appearing on 2024 ballots.

Alito asked:

Suppose there is a country that proclaims again and again and again that the United States is its biggest enemy. And suppose that the president of the United Sates, for diplomatic reasons, thinks that it is in the best interest of the United States to provide funds or release funds so that they can be used by that country. Could a state determine that that person has given aid and comfort to the enemy and therefore keep that person off of the ballot?

The Blaze referred to this as a "thinly-veiled" hypothetical, pointing out that it is fairly obvious that the other country is Iran and the president is Biden.

The outlet reports:

Despite such threats, indications that Iran was involved in the Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel, and warnings from Republicans that the Iranian regime could use the money to increase its funding of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Houthi terrorists, the Biden administration released $6 billion in frozen assets to Iran.

Murray's response

Murray - perhaps recognizing the implication underlying the hypothetical - answered in the negative. He said:

This court has never interpreted the aid-and-comfort language, which also is present in the Treason Clause. But commentators have suggested — it's been rarely applied because treason prosecutions are so rare — but commentators have suggested that, first of all, that aid and comfort really only applies in the context of a declared war or at least an adversarial relationship where there is in fact a war.

The Associated Press reports that "The Supreme Court seems poised to reject attempts to kick former President Donald Trump off the 2024 ballot, with conservative and liberal justices in apparent agreement in a case that puts them at the heart of a presidential election."

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