Supreme Court hands Trump a big win in Colorado ballot case

March 5, 2024

The U.S. Supreme Court gave former President Donald Trump a major victory on Monday, March 4—ruling that he cannot be disqualified from Colorado’s Republican primary ballot under the 14th Amendment, reports The Daily Beast.

The historic ruling derails a broad effort to keep Trump from even qualifying for the 2024 presidential election—one that sought to hold him accountable for inspiring his MAGA supporters to attack Congress on January 6, 2021, in a bald-faced attempt to remain in the White House after losing that election.

“BIG WIN FOR AMERICA!!!” Trump immediately responded in a post on his Truth Social media network.

The highest court in the land issued its decision per curiam, meaning that all nine justices agreed on a basic premise: Allowing a state to unilaterally take this kind of sweeping action would create chaos. Instead, they concluded, this kind of forceful act citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment should come at the federal level.

“Permitting state enforcement of Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates would raise serious questions about the scope of that power,” they wrote in an unsigned opinion.

The justices all expressed a serious concern with the fallout of what they called a “patchwork” approach, one that could fuel partisan hack jobs against enemy candidates and destroy the orderliness of the current presidential primary system across the nation.

“The result could well be that a single candidate would be declared ineligible in some states, but not others, based on the same conduct (and perhaps even the same factual record),” they wrote.

Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor joined together in a separate concurrence to clarify why they thought this latest effort could cause harm.

“In this case, the court must decide whether Colorado may keep a presidential candidate off the ballot on the ground that he is an oathbreaking insurrectionist and thus disqualified from holding federal office under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Allowing Colorado to do so would, we agree, create a chaotic state-by-state patchwork, at odds with our Nation’s federalism principles,” the trio wrote.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Trump appointee, authored her own separate section of the opinion in which she acknowledged the dramatic tensions surrounding the timing of the court’s decision. After all, the court is weighing in just one day before Trump is set to appear on primary ballots in 15 states, including Colorado and the much larger and more influential California and Texas.

“Writings on the court should turn the national temperature down, not up. For present purposes, our differences are far less important than our unanimity: All nine justices agree on the outcome of this case. That is the message Americans should take home,” she wrote.

The court over the weekend indicated that one case would be decided Monday, taking the unusual decision of issuing an opinion on a day when the court isn’t in session. Rulings are usually issued from the bench, with summaries of their opinions read in the courtroom. The next court day is not scheduled to take place until March 15.

Research contact: @thedailybeast