Supreme Court: Trump stays on ballot

The Supreme Court has held 9-0 that the Colorado Supreme Court erred in blessing the disqualification of Donald Trump from the state’s primary election ballot under section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court’s opinion is per curiam. Justice Barrett concurs in part and concurs in the judgment. Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson concur in the judgment (i.e., the result). The Court’s opinions are posted online here.

The Court’s per curiam opinion commanded a majority and its reasoning represents the law. It rests substantially on the exclusive power of Congress to enforce section 3 against candidates for federal office, “especially the presidency.”

Does the opinion leave open the possibility that Congress might refuse to certify Trump as president if he were to be elected president on the ground that he is guilty of insurrection? If Congress has not prescribed any means other than conviction of the crime of insurrection to make the determination underlying application of section 3, I doubt it. See opinion at 10. However, I may be mistaken. Perhaps the opinion cannot be read that broadly.

The opinion concludes (emphasis in original, citations omitted):

All nine Members of the Court agree with that result. Our colleagues writing separately further agree with many of the reasons this opinion provides for reaching it. So far as we can tell, they object only to our taking into account the distinctive way Section 3 works and the fact that Section 5 vests in Congress the power to enforce it. These are not the only reasons the States lack power to enforce this particular constitutional provision with respect to federal offices. But they are important ones, and it is the combination of all the reasons set forth in this opinion—not, as some of our colleagues would have it, just one particular rationale—that resolves this case. In our view, each of these reasons is necessary to provide a complete explanation for the judgment the Court unanimously reaches.

Read the whole thing here.

UPDATE: Although he characterizes it as a 5-4 decision, Andrew McCarthy supports my reading of the per curiam opinion: “What that means is that if Donald Trump were to win the presidential election, congressional Democrats would not be able — in the next January 6 joint session of Congress — to refuse to ratify his victory on the grounds that he is an insurrectionist. Under the Court’s holding, it is now a prerequisite to enforcement of the Section 3 disqualification that a person must have been convicted under the insurrection statute.”

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