SCOTUS may ultimately hear cases challenging Trump's eligibility for 2024 state ballots

November 19, 2023

Now that multiple states have weighed in on attempts to boot Donald Trump from their ballots in 2024, the outcomes in the former president's favor have increased the odds that the broader controversy will find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, as the Washington Examiner reports.

The chances that the parties who have raised 14th Amendment challenges to Trump's eligibility will ultimately seek the high court's guidance on the matter, according to some experts, have increased significantly now that more than one state has come down on the side of permitting his presence on the ballot.

As the Examiner notes, cases similar to those that have recently been decided are currently pending in 14 states, and at the heart of all of them is the argument that language in the aforementioned amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars Trump's candidacy due to his alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol unrest.

On Tuesday, a judge in Michigan ruled that Trump will indeed remain on that state's primary ballot, as the Associated Press notes, denying claims that his conduct related to Jan. 6 triggered the aforementioned constitutional prohibition.

Judge James Redford of the Michigan Court of Claims declared that since Trump complied with all applicable state law and met the requirements to appear on the primary ballot, he cannot be removed.

Redford further opined that it is within the purview of Congress, not the courts, to determine whether the constitutional provision cited by the plaintiffs is sufficient to disqualify Trump.

The week prior, the Minnesota Supreme Court avoided ruling directly on the constitutional question by declaring the state's primary ballot to be under the jurisdiction of the political parties themselves, rendering the broader question moot.

However, the panel did suggest that subsequent litigation could theoretically ensue in order to keep Trump from appearing on the state's general presidential election ballot.

On Friday, a judge in Colorado also ruled that Trump can remain on that state's primary ballot, rejecting yet another lawsuit in which plaintiffs cited Section 3 of the 14the Amendment to render the former president ineligible, as CBS News reports.

Notably, however, the judge did rule that Trump engaged in “insurrection” on Jan. 6, 2021, and she added that such a finding would typically be enough to remove someone from the ballot, she was not convinced that the language of the constitutional provision was applicable to those seeking the presidency. That question, in the estimation of University of Notre Dame law professor Derek Muller, could be what sparks SCOTUS review.

The Trump campaign was quick to herald the ruling as complete vindication of the former president's eligibility status, saying, “The American voter has a Constitutional right to vote for the candidate of their choosing, with President Donald J. Trump leading by massive numbers. This right was correctly preserved in Colorado today and we urge the swift disposal of any and all remaining Democrat ballot challenges.”

However, the Examiner noted that the plaintiffs in the Colorado case are already planning an appeal to the state's Supreme Court in the immediate future, a move which could ultimately cause the matter to end up before the highest court in the land.

There could also be further action in the Michigan case, given that the lower court's decision the ballot eligibility case has also already been appealed to the state's high court, which could also lead to a subsequent SCOTUS appeal.

With a similar ballot challenge also having been dismissed in New Hampshire in recent weeks, it appears as though the Trump campaign is on a potentially determinative winning streak, but whether any of the aforementioned cases – or those in other states – ultimately demand final resolution from the justices at the U.S. Supreme Court, only time will tell.

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