Supreme Court's chilly reception to 14th Amendment case leads to speculation of unanimous pro-Trump ruling

 February 9, 2024

Democrats are reeling after the Supreme Court hinted that it would reject efforts to take Donald Trump off the ballot in 2024.

The skepticism of justices across the ideological spectrum has led to speculation that Trump could even win the case unanimously.

Liberals have argued that it is self-evident that Trump engaged in "insurrection" on January 6th and that he should be disqualified under an obscure clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Colorado Supreme Court, in a narrow ruling last year, decided that Trump is not eligible.

But the U.S. Supreme Court saw more complexity - and danger - in the matter during two hours of oral arguments Thursday.

Liberal justices skeptical

President Trump has argued that removing him from the ballot would unleash "bedlam" and step on the rights of voters to make their own choices.

The Supreme Court echoed Trump's concerns while questioning whether the Fourteenth Amendment was even intended to apply to former presidents like Trump.

In a surprising twist, Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Biden appointee, pressed the lawyer for Colorado, Jason Murray, on the 14th Amendment's ambiguous language.

"The thing that really is troubling to me … they were listing people that were barred, and ‘president’ is not there," she said.

The justices also fretted about the consequences of letting individual states kick candidates off the ballot.

Elena Kagan, a liberal Obama judge, asked why "a single state should decide who gets to be president of the United States."

Pandora's box...

Similarly, Chief Justice John Roberts predicted that allowing states to disqualify candidates using their own interpretations of the term "insurrection" would result in political chaos.

“I would expect that a goodly number of states will say: ‘Whoever the Democratic candidate is, you're off the ballot,’” Roberts said. “That's a pretty daunting consequence.

At the end of the two hours of oral arguments, it was clear that President Trump had had an excellent day in court.

Conservative law professor Jonathan Turley described the reception of Colorado's argument as "glacial" and noted that "some of the toughest and most skeptical questions came from the left of the Court.”

Ed Whelan, a conservative lawyer and commentator, similarly predicted a thundering rebuke of the disqualification effort.

"Maybe unanimous. At least 8 justices," he said.

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