Which Way Will The Supreme Court Jump on Trump’s Eligibility?

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AP Photo/Mark Tenally

On February 8, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether Donald Trump can have his name placed on the Colorado primary ballot, overturning a Colorado Supreme Court ruling that denied him access. It’s the most significant constitutional question the Roberts Court has ever faced and is the most important Supreme Court case since Bush v. Gore in 2000.

If Trump wins, all challenges to his ballot access will likely melt away and he will be free and clear to run on all 50 state ballots in the primaries and the general election.

If he doesn’t win? Any number of scenarios would arise if Trump is denied access to the Colorado primary ballot. But, if other states like Maine try to keep him off the ballot, Trump could challenge every decision by a state to deny him ballot access.

So, a decision by the Supreme Court that would uphold the Colorado ruling is not necessarily the end of the Trump campaign. Each state looking to deny Trump ballot access would have to come up with their own legal arguments to keep him off the ballot.

That said, it would be hard for the Supreme Court to rule against Trump in Colorado and not Maine or other blue states. In short, it would be up to individual states to disqualify Trump.

Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom pooh-poohed the idea of kicking Trump off the ballot.

“There is no doubt that Donald Trump is a threat to our liberties and even to our democracy,” Newsom said, “But in California, we defeat candidates at the polls. Everything else is a political distraction.”

In Michigan, a group of voters tried suing to keep Trump off the ballot. But the state Supreme Court said, “We are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this court,” which is a sensible response to what amounts to an unconstitutional workaround to keep Trump off the ballot.

Trump’s lawyers issued a warning of the consequences of keeping the consensus GOP nominee off the ballot.

“The Court should put a swift and decisive end to these ballot-disqualification efforts, which threaten to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans and which promise to unleash chaos and bedlam if other state courts and state officials follow Colorado’s lead and exclude the likely Republican presidential nominee from their ballots,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

Those who are behind the ballot challenges also think the court needs to move swiftly.

“And I think, obviously, voters have a not small interest in knowing whether the Supreme Court thinks, as every fact-finder that has reached this question, that Jan. 6 was an insurrection and that Donald Trump is an insurrectionist,” Sherman said in an interview with The Associated Press. 

Note: No court of law has ever named Donald Trump an “insurrectionist.” If SCOTUS rules against him, they would be the first.

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