Trump asks Supreme Court for 'swift' rebuke of 14th Amendment ballot challenges

 January 19, 2024

President Trump has formally asked the Supreme Court to put a "swift" end to the nationwide campaign to kick him off the ballot. 

Trump is appealing a ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court that found him ineligible to be president under the Fourteenth Amendment's "insurrection" clause.

Trump's Supreme Court plea

In his petition to the high court, Trump warned that failing to overrule the Colorado court would set a dangerous precedent for American democracy - unleashing "bedlam" on the country.

“The Court should put a swift and decisive end to these ballot-disqualification efforts, which threaten to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans and which promise to unleash chaos and bedlam if other state courts and state officials follow Colorado’s lead," his lawyers wrote.

Some have characterized Trump's "bedlam" comments as an invitation to political violence, but many observers - including Trump detractors like Bill Barr - have warned that letting courts kick presidential candidates off the ballot arbitrarily could lead to a dangerous spiral in American politics.


On the merits, Trump's lawyers said he did not engage in an "insurrection."

They further argued that Congress - and not the states - has the authority to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment's so-called insurrection ban, which leaves unspecified how to determine when a person has engaged in insurrection.

Trump and his defenders have often noted that Trump urged his supporters to protest at the Capitol "peacefully and patriotically."

In their brief to the Supreme Court, Trump's lawyers described his passionate rhetoric on January 6th as protected political speech under the First Amendment.

“President Trump never participated in or directed any of the illegal conduct that occurred at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. In fact, the opposite is true, as President Trump repeatedly called for peace, patriotism, and law and order," they wrote.

Oral arguments scheduled

Trump is facing state and federal charges over the 2020 election, but they do not include insurrection or incitement.

Federal prosecutor Jack Smith instead filed charges like obstruction of an official proceeding - a controversial charge that could be dismissed depending on the outcome of a separate Supreme Court case involving a January 6th defendant charged with the same offense.

Republicans including Trump enemies like Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Bill Barr are supporting Trump's right to stay on the ballot.

The Colorado Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of finding Trump ineligible for the presidency in December. An unelected official in Maine followed suit, unilaterally coming to the same controversial conclusion.

Trump has challenged both findings, which have been paused pending the Supreme Court's decision. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on February 8.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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