The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Trump’s Ballot Battle

Supreme Court to decide Trump ballot eligibility amid legal challenges
Seth Wenig via AP
Former President Donald Trump speaks after his defense team finished presenting closing arguments at New York Supreme Court, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, in New York.

As former President Donald Trump begins the Republican nomination process, this past weekend marked the third year since the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. Now, some states have decided to make it ineligible for the former president’s name to be on the ballot for the upcoming presidential election.

 The implications of taking Trump’s name have rippled to states including Arizona, California, Maine, Michigan, Illinois and 15 other states that have also filed ballot-related suits. The Supreme Court will address the constitutional grounds for Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Dating back to the Civil War, the 14th Amendment bars someone from holding public office who has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution and then proceeded to insight an “insurrection or rebellion.”

“The trial court in Colorado found as a matter of fact that President Trump had committed insurrection within the meaning of section three of the 14th Amendment,” said Gregory Mark, a DePaul law professor. “The appellate courts have to have really powerful reasons to overturn a trial court’s finding of fact, and this is a finding of fact.”

The 4-3 Colorado Supreme Court decision has come with various legal arguments; as the Supreme Court is set to hear it, legal experts have stated that the 14th Amendment does not define “insurrection” or outline what it means to engage in insurrection.  “Well, you have to separate two questions here,” Mark said. “The first is whether under relevance the former president is indictable and prosecutable for these offenses like anybody else, but the next question is could he be immune from prosecution.” 

Trump’s immunity claim from criminal charges related to the events on Jan. 6 was taken to the federal appeals court panel where three judges expressed skepticism of his claim that a president could not be prosecuted if he were not first impeached and convicted by Congress, according to Politico. One of the judges argued that dismissing the Trump prosecution would also weaken the enforcement of criminal laws or diminish constitutional power.

In this courtroom sketch, Trump Organization defense attorney Christopher Kise, center, makes closing arguments as Judge Arthur Engoron looks on at New York Supreme Court, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024, in New York. Former President Donald Trump, left, listens. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Politically, banning the former president is a massive disadvantage in a race where polls show he is leading. In addition to Trump, two other candidates — Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis — have entered the election bid for the Republican party.  “I think the Republican Party is trying to figure out what it wants,” said public service professor Nick Kachiroubas. The differing outcomes of the Court’s ruling on Trump’s case have critical implications.

According to Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale professor and constitutional scholar, the Court may opt for a ruling that defers Colorado to keep his name off the ballot but not other states, allowing different state ballot-access qualifications to make their own decisions. “Even if it violates the 14th Amendment, why are we even letting him run that and what does that mean for the election?” DePaul sophomore Mariana Lopez said. “If the ballot looks different for each state you get slapped with the opposition of democracy in your face when you go to vote,” Lopez said.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends the closing arguments in the Trump Organization civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. (Shannon Stapleton/Pool Photo via AP)

As voters look ahead to the upcoming election, the decision the Court makes will play a vital role in providing constitutional rule on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Trump’s role in the events.“The president wields levels of power,” Mark said. “It’s simply bizarre to suggest that with all the power and might of the presidency, somehow he was the underdog.”The Republican primaries start Jan 15 with the Supreme Court set to hear the oral arguments Feb. 8. 

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