Legal expert previews the Trump ballot case

 February 5, 2024

Attorney Jonathan Turley recently previewed the Trump ballot access case that the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are about to hear. 

Turley previewed the case during a recent appearance on the Fox News Channel's Fox News Sunday. 

For those unfamiliar with Turley, he is a George Washington University Law School professor, a constitutional scholar, and a frequent contributor to Fox News.

The Supreme Court is getting ready to hear the case on Feb. 8. The big question that the justices will consider is whether Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars former President Donald Trump from seeking re-election.


Anti-Trump groups across the country have been attempting to use this clause of the Constitution to stop Trump from appearing on their state's general election ballots. These efforts have, by and large, been unsuccessful, with a couple of exceptions.

The most notable exception is Colorado, where the state's top court ruled that Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment does indeed preclude Trump from appearing on the state's general election ballot.

The other exception is Maine, where - not a court - but rather the secretary of state, Shenna Bellows (D), took it upon herself to use Section Three to disqualify Trump.

For those unfamiliar with the relevant provision of the Constitution, it generally prohibits certain government officials from seeking reelection if they took a certain government oath and if they subsequently "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.

Turley's preview

During his appearance, Turley noted that the situation is not as simple as would be suggested by the above argument.

Turley said:

There’s a big difference between an age requirement and this. First of all, it depends on your ruling on a series of questions in order to even get Trump disqualified. It’s got to apply to a president, which has been contested; it has to be self-executed, allowing the state to act unilaterally; and then finally, this has to be an insurrection.

Turley suggested that the Supreme Court justices are most likely to spend their time on the second prong.

He said:

I think the court is unlikely on the first question to rule on that. It’s more likely to look at this "self-executing" question. Because remember, Chief Justice Roberts feels the burden of being chief justice, he’s going to want to eke out as large a majority, if not unanimity, on this question. The second question probably offers the best chance for that.

We'll find out soon enough if Turley is right. Legal experts are expecting the justices, ultimately, to overturn Colorado's decision.

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