The SCOTUS hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday. Nexstar plans to provide a livestream of the court audio, along with political analysis, beginning 15 minutes prior within this story.
WASHINGTON D.C. (The Hill) — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday in regard to a Colorado court’s landmark ruling disqualifying Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 Republican primary ballot under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban.
It’s an extraordinary battle at the nation’s highest court, which has never ruled on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. That clause, added after the Civil War, blocks anyone who swore an oath to “support” the U.S. Constitution but “engaged in insurrection” against it from holding federal office.
“The Colorado Supreme Court has no authority to deny President Trump access to the ballot,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in the petition. “By doing so, the Colorado Supreme Court has usurped Congressional authority and misinterpreted and misapplied the text of section 3.”
Trump’s Jan. 3 petition asked the Supreme Court to immediately reverse the Colorado ruling in a summary decision without oral argument or extensive briefing. The other parties in the case previously agreed the justices should hear the case on an expedited schedule, so a decision may be issued before most states’ primaries, but they did not suggest the high court forgo the step of holding oral arguments.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in December that Trump engaged in insurrection by inflaming his supporters with false claims of election fraud after the 2020 race and directing them to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, barring him from appearing on the state’s primary ballot as he seeks a second term in the White House.
The state’s highest court also notably reversed a trial judge’s finding that the 14th Amendment didn’t apply to the presidency, writing that the presidential oath’s specific language “does not make it anything other than an oath to support the Constitution.”
“We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” the majority opinion reads. “We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us.”
If allowed to stand, Trump’s lawyers wrote, the ruling “will mark the first time in the history of the United States that the judiciary has prevented voters from casting ballots for the leading major-party presidential candidate.”
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The Colorado court had put its ruling on hold so Trump could seek review from the Supreme Court. Until the justices resolve the appeal, Trump’s name remains on the ballot.
However, the deadline to finalize Colorado’s presidential primary ballots has passed, meaning he will appear on the primary ballots regardless of the Supreme Court’s opinion.
Still, any decision by the justices stands to impact Trump’s White House bid in November’s general election — not only in Colorado, but in states nationwide.
“Crooked Joe Biden’s comrades, including the Colorado Supreme Court and CREW, a radical, left-wing activist group, are doing all they can to disenfranchise all American voters by attempting to remove President Trump, the leading candidate in the 2024 Presidential Election, from the primary ballot,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement.
The Colorado Republican Party had separately appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, writing that if the state high court’s ruling is allowed to stand, it would distort the 2024 race and result in “nebulous accusations of insurrection.” The plaintiffs and the Colorado secretary of state agreed the high court should take the case, albeit only to consider a smaller set of issues.
However, just before the new year, Maine became the second state to disqualify Trump from the state’s Republican primary ballots. Trump appealed that ruling to state court, and the case could separately reach the Supreme Court.
“The weight of the evidence makes clear that Mr. Trump was aware of the tinder laid by his multi-month effort to delegitimize a democratic election, and then chose to light a match,” Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, wrote in her decision.
Zach Schonfeld contributed.