The Supreme Court’s Potential Simplification in Trump Ballot Dispute and its Potential for Post-Election Turmoil

Trump's Supporters (Credits: NBC News)

When it comes to determining whether former President Donald Trump should be removed from Colorado’s ballot, the Supreme Court faces a challenging decision that could lead to significant chaos in the future, according to legal experts.

There are concerns that the court might take the easy way out by ruling that it’s Congress, not states, that should enforce the “insurrection ban” in the 14th Amendment, potentially causing a “catastrophic constitutional crisis” and political instability.

The experts caution against avoiding the crucial question of whether Trump participated in an insurrection, predicting that the issue could resurface if Trump wins the election.

Trump’s Supporters (Credits: The Wall Street Journal)

Interviews and court documents highlight the potential for a dire scenario, with phrases such as “horrendously ugly” used to describe the consequences.

Gerard Magliocca, a law professor at Indiana University and an expert on the insurrection ban, emphasizes the volatility of the situation.

During oral arguments, a majority of the justices seemed sympathetic to Trump’s claim that Colorado lacked the authority to remove him. However, this doesn’t address the crucial question of whether Congress can deem him ineligible to serve.

If the justices decide that states cannot enforce the ban, and Trump wins the general election, a potential conflict may arise over whether Congress must enforce it.

The theory suggests that Democratic lawmakers might challenge Trump’s eligibility when electoral votes are counted in January, creating uncertainty and political turmoil.

Magliocca stresses that if the court only rules that states cannot enforce the ban against presidential candidates, it doesn’t automatically declare Trump eligible to serve.

This leaves the possibility for individuals to turn to Congress on January 6, 2025, seeking a declaration of Trump’s ineligibility if he wins the election.

The ballot case is distinct from Trump’s claim of immunity from criminal prosecution, which recently reached the Supreme Court. In the ballot litigation, Trump is appealing a decision from the Colorado Supreme Court that accused him of inciting the attack on the US Capitol during the counting of electoral votes in 2021.

Arguments during the Supreme Court session focused less on whether there was an insurrection and more on technical questions about whether states can enforce the ban. A decision is expected soon.

Many experts speculate that Chief Justice John Roberts may seek to expedite the resolution of the ballot case with a decision that garners support from both conservative and liberal justices. There is a suggestion that he might avoid delving into the question of whether Trump participated in an insurrection.

Before oral arguments, some scholars warned of the potential consequences of a decision that doesn’t address fundamental questions about Trump’s role on January 6, 2021.

They raised concerns about a worst-case scenario leading to heightened public conflict, particularly if Congress votes in favor of disqualifying Trump after he seemingly wins the Electoral College.

The lack of clarity in the rules about what happens next in such a scenario adds to the complexity and uncertainty of the situation.

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