Supreme Court Disqualification Case and the Future of the Republic
The 2024 election is shaping up to be influenced by a clause in the 14th Amendment that few considered significant just a year ago. Following the oral arguments heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case questioning the eligibility of former President Donald Trump to run for public office, the disqualification clause of the 14th Amendment has become a central issue in the presidential race and the future of the republic.
This is a Game-Changing Case
According to Mario Nicolais, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, this is the most important case the Supreme Court has faced in decades. Nicolais believes that the outcome of this case is arguably bigger than the precedent-setting Bush v. Gore ruling, as it directly addresses the survival of American democracy.
Although the case originates in Colorado, its implications will have far-reaching consequences for the entire nation.
A Lawsuit Triggered by the Capitol Attack
The case began in September when plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in light of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, arguing that Trump is disqualified under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This section prohibits anyone who engaged in insurrection or rebellion after taking an oath to uphold the Constitution from holding public office in the United States. The Colorado Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs, ruling that Trump should be barred from the presidential primary ballot in Colorado.
This ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case. Although most of the justices appeared hesitant to affirm the Colorado ruling, a reversal by the Supreme Court would leave the country vulnerable to the very threat Section 3 seeks to counter.
Uncertain Implications and Potential Consequences
The Supreme Court has several possible rulings. They may decide that Section 3 requires enabling legislation from Congress to be enforceable, or they may conclude that Section 3 does not apply to presidents or the presidency. Any such ruling could potentially allow Trump, who has been accused of attempting a coup and expressed dictatorial ambitions, to remain on the presidential ballot.
“This is bigger than just one election … This is: How do we protect our democracy, and what does it mean?” – Mario Nicolais, attorney for plaintiffs in the Trump disqualification case
In an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court, election law experts Edward B. Foley, Benjamin Ginsberg, and Richard L. Hasen warned of the potential for civil unrest and violence resulting from lingering questions about Trump’s eligibility. They urged the justices to make a quick and decisive decision on Trump’s disqualification to avoid the risk of catastrophic political instability, disenfranchisement of millions of voters, and the possibility of public violence before and after the election.
Hasen emphasized this warning in an article published following the Supreme Court hearing. He posed a scenario where Trump wins the Electoral College but Democrats take control of Congress and decide to enforce Section 3 on January 6, 2025, when they meet to certify the vote. Hasen asserts that allowing for such a scenario would risk political instability and potential violence.
Protecting Democracy and Upholding the Constitution
While discussions surrounding the disqualification case can be complex, they ultimately boil down to a simple question. The framers of Section 3 intended to shield public offices from individuals who betrayed the Constitution, drawing from their experiences in the Civil War. This provision was not only meant for Confederate figures but also for “the leaders of any rebellion hereafter to come,” as expressed by a U.S. senator at the time. Just as Jefferson Davis would not have been considered qualified for the U.S. presidency after the Civil War, the Colorado plaintiffs argue that Trump should not be deemed qualified after January 6.
If the Supreme Court justices disagree, they would essentially strip Americans of a crucial legal means to combat enemies from within.
The Need for Clear and Effective Restrictions
It is possible that the Supreme Court may rule that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment requires specific legislation from Congress to be enforceable and that it does not apply to presidents. However, such a ruling would leave a fundamental question unanswered: How can the nation prevent individuals like Trump, who pose a threat to public trust, from holding positions of power?
The wisdom of Americans who lived through the Civil War and crafted Section 3 is in danger of being dismissed by the Supreme Court. This could have profound implications for the future of the republic.
This column was originally published by Colorado Newsline, a sister publication of Arizona Mirror and a member of the States Newsroom network of local newsrooms.
Read More of this Story at azmirror.com – 2024-02-09 16:01:25
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