Rarely has an academic article in a legal journal come this far. It was written for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review by two conservative academics who argued that the answer to the question of what could stop Donald Trump on his way back from the White House was always there, hidden in the third sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. This little-quoted passage of policy text would bar him from appearing on the ballot again due to his alleged responsibility for the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, a ban in two states: Colorado and Maine. This Thursday, the debate over whether or not Trump is eligible to run in the November elections reaches the Supreme Court, whose nine justices have been summoned to hear the oral arguments for and against this academic article in which it is already is one of the cases (Donald J. Trump vs. Norma Anderson et al.) with the greatest political consequences in Washington in recent decades.
It promises to be a morning full of discussions about law, yes, but also about history. The Fourteenth Amendment is one of the most influential constitutional amendments because it guaranteed equality before the law for all citizens after the abolition of slavery. It was also used to ban those who had participated in an insurrection from running for public office again. Authorized in 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War (1861–1865), it was intended to ensure that the rebels could not attack the Union from within again. Apart from these cases, the third sentence has only been used in very rare cases, most recently more than a century ago.
Echoes of the Supreme Court's own history will also resonate throughout the hearing. The most obvious precedent is the ruling in Bush v. Gore, which settled the Florida vote recount dispute in the 2000 election and ultimately handed the presidency to George Bush Jr. Oral arguments this Thursday are expected to last about 80 minutes and will not result in a decision, but rather a sense of where each justice's vote will go. The current composition of the Supreme Court consists of six conservative and three liberal justices. In his four years in the White House, Trump achieved an unusual feat: He smuggled three of his top justices onto the Supreme Court.
The ball on Trump's disqualification has been in the court of these nine robes since the end of December, but now comes the rush: it is urgent to know the verdict before March 5, a day known as Super Tuesday, the day of the primary campaign in the one where most states agree to vote in the primaries. Therefore, it is important to know whether the name of the Republican candidate favored in all polls will be allowed to appear on the ballot. One of those states is Colorado, where a judge concluded that the former president participated in an insurrection but did not disqualify him because he believed the constitutional text did not refer to the president's position. The Colorado Supreme Court later changed this criterion. Maine was the second state to adopt this idea.
The text under discussion states: “No person shall be a senator or congressman, elector of the President or Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, if he has previously taken an oath in support of the Constitution of the United States or has taken part in an insurrection.” or participated in a rebellion against them, or gave aid or comfort to their enemies.” The amendment adds that this prohibition can only be repealed by a two-thirds majority of each house of Congress.
Legal debate with political consequences
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Trump's lawyers are sticking with this confusing language, claiming it doesn't apply to the presidency. They also claim that what Trump did on January 6 does not fall within the definition of an insurrection and that the 14th Amendment cannot be invoked without the consent of the Capitol. Analysts hope the Supreme Court will solve the problem by remaining strictly legal and not addressing questions of political standing, such as whether what happened in the attack on the Capitol can be considered a failed coup attempt. as a mob addressed the quiet president during a rally marching toward the headquarters of American democracy to disrupt the process of transferring power to Joe Biden, who won the election despite fraud theories that have been proven wrong time and time again and that Trump and the others only tried to spread in the previous months.
The nine justices of the Supreme Court. Seated, from left: Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, President John Roberts, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan. Standing (left to right): Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh (the three justices appointed by Trump) and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Jackson, Kagan and Sotomayor make up the liberal minority. EVELYN HOCKSTEIN (Portal)
The Supreme Court also faces a new test of its legitimacy this Thursday. His standing among citizens is at its lowest, and in recent months he has been in the spotlight because of corruption allegations against judges who have been elected for life and are virtually untouchable in the American system. One of the most questioned is conservative Clarence Thomas, who is accused of receiving lavish gifts from a powerful Republican donor that he never declared.
They also demanded from the left-wing media that Thomas stay away from cases related to Trump's responsibility for the attack on the Capitol, since his wife, the conservative activist Ginni Thomas, has been proven to have pressured dozens of text messages to the White House and lawmakers to overturn Biden's 2020 victory. He also took part in the Stop the Steal rally [Detengamos el robo] on Jan. 6 before the attack on the Capitol and told the House committee investigating the 2022 attack that she still believes Democrats stole the 2020 election.
The Supreme Court hearing comes just two days after Trump's legal team suffered a blow with the decision of three Washington appeals court judges, who unanimously ruled that he was not legally immune for acts committed during his presidency. The resolution rejected an appeal by the former president against a similar decision by federal judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the four-felony criminal trial over the tycoon's attempts to change the results of those elections and his responsibility for the attack on the country is the Capitol. In this case, too, the final word lies with the Supreme Court.
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