Democrats weigh possibility of not certifiying election results in event of Trump win

 February 25, 2024

With the left appearing increasingly panicked about the notion that Donald Trump may prevail in November, discussions are afoot about how Democrats might attempt to thwart him from taking office if the Supreme Court does not rule on arguments about his eligibility, with a new piece in The Atlantic outlining some possible strategies.

The article, penned by Atlantic staff writer Russell Berman, suggests that if the U.S. Supreme Court opts not to weigh in on arguments that Trump is ineligible for office under the 14th Amendment Insurrection Clause, Democrat lawmakers could oppose certification of the election results in January, should he win.

Contingency planning abounds

Berman begins by noting that during recent oral arguments at the high court concerning the Colorado Supreme Court's decision booting Trump from the state's primary ballot due to his alleged role in the events of Jan. 6, 2021, it seemed clear that the justices were leaning in favor of disallowing the move.

It was then that Jason Murray, the attorney who advocated on behalf of Colorado, hinted at the tumult that could follow if the nation's highest court did not conclusively answer the eligibility question.

The issue could “come back with a vengeance,” Murray warned, referencing options available to Congress when it comes time to officially certify the results of the election.

Berman suggests that a true constitutional crisis could ensue in which “Democrats would have to choose between confirming a winning many of them believe is ineligible and defying the will of voters who elected him,” and he pointed out that current electoral maps indicate that Trump's opposition could well have the votes to preclude his ascension to the Oval Office if they so desire.

Potential scenarios unfold

According to Berman, some high-ranking House Democrats he spoke to did not guarantee their willingness to certify a Trump victory, suggesting that they require Supreme Court affirmation of his eligibility in light of 14th Amendment concerns, but others took a different view.

Worries remain among some, that the high court will not weigh in on the matter and will instead defer to Congress on the eligibility question.

“That would be a colossal disaster,” opined Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). “We already had one horrendous January 6. We don't need another.”

Interestingly, progressive Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) indicated that if the high court rules that Trump remains eligible, he plans to support certification in the event of a Trump victory, regardless of his personal opposition to such an outcome. “I'm going to follow the law,” he said.

Hardliners could act

According to Berman, not all Democrats took a similar approach to Swalwell's, with one staunchly liberal congressman refusing to rule out the option of non-certification in the face of a Trump win, though he did acknowledge the dangers such a move might pose, as Fox News noted.

“The choice that Democrats would face if Trump won without a definitive ruling on his eligibility was almost too fraught for Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland to contemplate,” wrote Berman. “He told me he didn't know how he'd vote in that scenario.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), responded to a question about whether she would be willing to vote against certification of election results as a means to keep Trump out of office, saying, “I might be.”

As Berman noted, a group of legal scholars submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Colorado case, urging them to decide the eligibility question one way or the other, suggesting that if they don't, “it is a certainty” that lawmakers will work against certification come January 2025, potentially setting the stage for an explosive national battle.

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