Expert: Trump ballot ruling could set precedent on insurrection clause

WASHINGTON (KDVR) — As the nation awaits a U.S. Supreme Court decision about whether or not Donald Trump can be on Colorado’s ballot, law experts are speculating about the outcome.

FOX31 was told the most likely scenario is that Colorado’s ruling will be overturned, allowing the former president back on the Colorado primary ballot, but it’s also possible this same conversation will come up again in November — in Congress.

During oral arguments Thursday, one of the topics both liberal and conservative justices seemed most concerned about was whether or not states have the right to apply the so-called insurrection clause of the U.S. Constitution against a candidate.

University of Denver law professor Ian Farrell has been helping FOX31 interpret this case since it was first filed in Denver District Court back in September. Because the court didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the definition of insurrection or about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, he said their ruling isn’t likely to give a clear answer about whether Trump specifically can or cannot hold office.

Protesters hold their banners in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

What the Trump ballot ruling could mean for Section 3

Instead, he thinks the court’s ruling will set a precedent by saying individual states can not use Section 3 of the 14th Amendment against him — or against anyone else.

“It leaves the underlying merits question open. That would mean that they haven’t decided whether what happened on Jan. 6 was insurrection, whether Trump engaged in insurrection in a way that meant he was disqualified. All of that would still be an open question that simply the states couldn’t act on,” Farrell said.

Colorado’s primary is March 5, but ballots go in the mail next week. It’s unclear whether or not the justices will have an answer before then.

If this issue does eventually make its way to Congress, it would take a two-thirds vote to pass, which experts say isn’t very likely given the current climate in both the House and the Senate.

Source: Rocky Mountain News

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