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The Justices unanimously reversed a December 19 decision by Colorado's top court to kick Mr. Trump off the State's Republican primary ballot after finding that the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment disqualified him from again holding public office.

... Mr. Trump was also barred from the ballot in Maine and Illinois based on the 14th Amendment, but those decisions were put on hold pending the Supreme Court's ruling in the Colorado case. His eligibility had been challenged in court by a group of six voters in Colorado - four Republicans and two independents - who portrayed him as a threat to American democracy and sought to hold him accountable for the Jan. 6, 2021, riots on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.

... The Supreme Court heard arguments on February 8. Mr. Trump's lawyer argued that he is not subject to the disqualification language because a president is not an "officer of the United States," that the provision cannot be enforced by courts absent congressional legislation, and that what occurred on Jan. 6 was shameful, criminal and violent but not an insurrection.

Source: Trump wins Colorado ballot disqualification case at US Supreme Court

From what I have understood so far, the US Supreme Court basically said that US States do not have the power to determine who can run for a Federal office. Did the judgement also make any observations or rulings on the "insurrectionist" charges made against Mr. Trump?

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2 Answers 2

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No

The Supreme Court only ruled that States cannot remove candidates for this reason.

At no point did either the opinion, or the concurring opinions, discuss whether Trump was an insurrectionist.

It is true that the Supreme Court would accept as true that Trump was an insurrectionist, although that is misleading. The Supreme Court has no rights to question the facts of a case, of which Trump being an insurrectionist is a fact. The Supreme Court can only review the law of a case appealed to them.

Full Opinions: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/23pdf/23-719_19m2.pdf

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  • What happened to states rights?
    – Jontia
    Mar 5 at 8:17
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    @Jontia - The states are subordinate in certain areas otherwise the federation would not mean much. Deciding who is eligible for federal office is one of those areas where the states are subordinate. Aside - the 14th amendment itself actually begins by restricting states powers. In section 1. "... No state shall make or enforce any law ...".
    – Steve Kidd
    Mar 5 at 12:03
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    @SteveKidd to be honest if you're going to start limiting state control over their primary ballots it's probably time to insist on a uniform system and single registration across the country. Going half in is a bit pointless.
    – Jontia
    Mar 5 at 12:52
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any observations or rulings on the "insurrectionist" charges made against Mr. Trump.

Not as a matter of fact, but as a matter of law, the majority opinion pointed out that the only thing left in federal legislation right now is 18 U. S. C. §2383 and determined that the relevant constitutional clause is not otherwise self-executing. So Trump would have to be convicted of that federal crime to be disqualified by a federal court. (And even then, the Constitution says that 2/3 of Congress can overrule that disqualification.) So, they did implicitly say that Trump cannot be disqualified using any civil lawsuits, even a federal one, because Congress has not passed such a law. This implies that [for election disqualification purposes] Trump would have to be shown to be an insurrectionist 'beyond a reasonable doubt'--the criminal standard, and in a federal court. (The Colorado state lawsuit was a civil one, not a criminal one, by the way. Some US states allow disqualification as a result of a civil lawsuit, but some require a criminal conviction. Footnote : or as inciting or assisting one, if you read the exact wording of that.)

The 3 liberal justices were incensed that the majority put this explicitly in the decision, because it was not a question explicitly before court. (Barrett concurred on that, but with less fireworks.)

FWTW, before this SCOTUS ruling, various legal bloggers (and law professors) were arguing that civil disqualification is/was legally possible, in Trump's case.


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  • Given the estimated duration of any such trial and appeals it would seem the 14th amendment is now a dead letter.
    – Jontia
    Mar 5 at 8:16
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    That clause, but the 14th as a whole, but it's other clauses are huge
    – bharring
    Mar 5 at 12:35

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