SCOTUS rules that Donald Trump can stay on Colorado ballot

  • SCOTUS ruled unanimously to keep Trump on Colorado ballot
  • This ends other efforts to kick him off ballots in Illinois, Maine
  • Three liberal justices concurred with decision, disagreed with scope

(NewsNation) — The Supreme Court on Monday overturned Colorado’s highest court’s decision to exclude former President Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential primary ballot in a 9-0 vote.

“We conclude that States may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office,” justices wrote in their ruling. “But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency.”

This Supreme Court decision, made a day before Super Tuesday primaries, ends efforts in other states such as Illinois and Maine to kick Trump off the ballot.

On Truth Social after Monday’s Supreme Court ruling was released, Trump wrote it is a “BIG WIN FOR AMERICA!!!”

Calling the decision “very well-crafted” in a later news conference, Trump said he thinks it will go a long way toward bringing the country together.

“Today’s unanimous Supreme Court decision underscores the bedrock principles of our democracy and the rule of law,” Harmeet K. Dhillon, founder and managing partner of the Dhillon Law Group, Trump’s legal team, said. “This victory is not just for President Trump but for the integrity of our electoral system and the rights of voters across the country.”

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said the decision was “disappointing” on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. She said in an interview with Politico, though, that the ruling did not surprise her due to oral arguments, where both liberal and conservative judges expressed skepticism over the 14th Amendment argument.

“Colorado should be able to bar oath-breaking insurrections from our ballot,” Griswold said on X.

Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows withdrew her determination Trump should be taken off her state’s ballot after the Supreme Court announced its opinion.

In a modified ruling obtained by NewsNation partner The Hill, Bellows wrote that votes cast for Mr. Trump in Maine’s primary Tuesday will be counted.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Trump’s opponent to be the GOP presidential nominee, said she agrees with the Supreme Court at a Monday rally in Texas.

“We don’t ever want some elected official in a state or anybody else saying who can and can’t be on the ballot. This is America,” Haley said. “Look, I’ll defeat Donald Trump fair and square but I want him on that ballot.”

Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled in December that Trump should be disqualified from the state’s primary ballot under Article III of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment because of his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots.

That section reads: “No person shall hold any office, civil or military, under the United States who, having previously taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.”

Plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit seeking to disqualify Trump were four Republican voters and two unaffiliated voters. They argued the president is an officer of the United States, as “it would make no sense to read Section 3 as disqualifying all oath-breaking insurrectionists except the one holding the highest office in the land.”

During oral arguments, Justice Elena Kagan asked: “What’s a state doing deciding who other citizens get to vote for for president?”

Lawyer Jason Clifford Murray, representing those challenging Trump’s being on the ballot, said in oral arguments that Colorado isn’t doing this.

Instead, he said, Colorado is “deciding how to assign its own electors under its Article II powers.”

“Different states can have different procedures,” Murray said. “Some states may allow insurrectionists to be on the ballot.”

Jonathan Mitchell, Trump’s lead lawyer, argued at the U.S. Supreme Court the former president didn’t lead an insurrection and therefore shouldn’t be disqualified. Mitchell claimed the former president never told his supporters to enter the Capitol, and “he did not lead, direct, or encourage any of the unlawful acts that occurred” there.

“Giving a passionate political speech and telling supporters to metaphorically ‘fight like hell’ for their beliefs is not insurrection either,” Mitchell said.

A 5-4 majority in the court ultimately found that a federal candidate can only be disqualified for insurrection if Congress enacts legislation, though all nine justices agreed that Trump should be on Colorado’s ballot.

While they concurred with the judgment as a whole, Kagan, as well as Justices Sonia Sotomayer and Ketanji Brown Jackson, wrote in their opinion that they took issue with its scope.

“The majority announces that a disqualification for insurrection can occur only when Congress enacts a particular kind of legislation pursuant to Section 5 of the 14th Amendment. In doing so, the majority shuts the door on other potential means of federal enforcement,” the three liberal justices wrote. “We cannot join an opinion that decides momentous and difficult issues unnecessarily, and we therefore concur only in the judgment.”

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, writing alone, echoed concerns that the court should have restricted its opinion as well, though added that this is not the time to “amplify disagreement with stridency.”

“Particularly in this circumstance, 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,” Barrett wrote in her own opinion. “That is the message Americans should take home.”

“We don’t ever want some elected official in a state or anybody else saying who can and can’t be on the ballot. This is America,” former South Carolina Gov. Haley said, speaking to voters at a rally in Spring, Texas. “Look, I’ll defeat Donald Trump fair and square but I want him on that ballot.”

In a statement on X, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson said the Supreme Court affirmed that Colorado judges engaged in a “purely partisan attack” against Trump.

“States engaging in the same activist, undemocratic behaviors should take notice and leave it to the American people to decide who will be president,” Johnson said.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

2024 Election

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