Submitting late within the day to satisfy the Jan. 18, 2024, deadline, former President Donald Trump submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court that requested the justices to overturn the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to take away him from that state’s main poll.

Norma Anderson, a Republican and former Colorado state lawmaker, and several other different plaintiffs had filed suit in September 2023 to maintain Trump off the 2024 Colorado ballots. The plaintiffs argued that Trump was disqualified from public workplace as a result of his “efforts to overturn the 2020 election and intrude with the peaceable switch of energy had been a part of an revolt in opposition to the Structure of the US.” Their arguments had been based mostly on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Structure, which bans insurrectionists from holding public workplace.

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its ruling within the case, initially referred to as Anderson v. Griswold, on Dec. 19. The Colorado justices concluded that Trump was disqualified from holding the workplace of the president due to his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and so they affirmed the trial court docket’s conclusion that Trump engaged in an revolt.

“These actions constituted overt, voluntary, and direct participation within the revolt,” the court majority wrote.

Trump faces greater than a dozen related legal challenges to his candidacy in other states as well, based mostly on Part 3. Many complainants, jurists and constitutional regulation students argue that Trump is disqualified to carry workplace as a result of he “engaged in revolt or revolt” in opposition to the U.S. based mostly on his actions earlier than, throughout and after the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump appealed the Colorado Supreme Courtroom’s resolution to the U.S. Supreme Courtroom, and the justices agreed to contemplate the case. In his Jan. 18 transient, Trump offered a spread of arguments for why the Colorado resolution was flawed. Chief amongst them: He claimed that Part 3 of the 14th Modification doesn’t apply to the presidency and that he didn’t interact in an revolt in opposition to the US.

Describing his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump’s transient says “Calling for peace, patriotism, respect for regulation and order, and directing the Secretary of Protection to do what must be performed to guard the American individuals is by no means inciting or taking part in an ‘revolt.’”

President Donald Trump speaks at the ‘Stop The Steal’ Rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images</a>

Officers and insurrections

Trump’s transient assaults the Colorado Supreme Courtroom’s “doubtful interpretation of (S)ection 3 of the Fourteenth Modification.” He argues that Part 3 doesn’t apply to the presidency as a result of the “President just isn’t an ‘officer of the US.’” Trump factors to other parts of the Constitution that use the time period “Officer,” and he argues that an “Officer of the US” solely contains political appointees, such because the Secretary of State, and never anybody who’s elected to an workplace.

There’s advantage to this argument, however Trump confuses the unique intent of the Framers, when the Structure was initially ratified, with the intent of the 39th Congress that drafted the 14th Amendment many years after the nation’s founding. A number of constitutional regulation students argue that the thirty ninth Congress did intend for Part 3 to apply to the presidency as a result of congressional data spotlight senators’ and representatives’ particular feedback that it ought to.

Whether or not Part 3 applies to the presidency is probably going the primary query that the Supreme Courtroom should reply. Whereas Trump additionally claims that he didn’t interact in an revolt, the justices probably won’t contemplate whether or not he did or not as a result of the court docket usually doesn’t disturb the factual conclusions of trial courts.

However the justices might have to contemplate the opposite authorized questions that Trump raises. Trump argues that even when Part 3 applies to the presidency, it can’t be enforced as a result of Congress has not handed a regulation to implement it. However as a constitutional law scholar, I consider that maybe his strongest argument and the justices’ best authorized query to reply turns to the plain textual content of Part 3, which states that it bars insurrectionists and rebels from holding workplace. It doesn’t say something about operating for workplace.

Bullets, not ballots

The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, is taken into account a “Reconstruction Amendment,” together with the thirteenth and fifteenth amendments. Congress and state legislatures ratified the Reconstruction Amendments within the years instantly following the top of the Civil Warfare. Inside that context, the drafters of the Reconstruction Amendments sought, amongst many issues, to stop Confederates from serving in public office following their unsuccessful rebellion in opposition to the Union.

Part 3 of the 14th Modification says:

“No individual shall be a Senator or Consultant in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or maintain any workplace, civil or navy, below the US, or any State, who, having beforehand taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the US, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an government or judicial officer of any State, to assist the Structure of the US, shall have engaged in revolt or revolt in opposition to the identical, or given help or consolation to the enemies thereof. However Congress might by a vote of two-thirds of every Home, take away such incapacity.”

With 15 commas, the that means and software of Part 3 might confuse many readers. Constitutional regulation scholar Mark Graber offered an intensive dialogue of every sentence fragment and clause in a recent article for The Conversation. In his abstract of this part of the 14th Modification, he says “These phrases within the modification declare that those that flip to bullets when ballots fail to offer their desired end result can’t be trusted as democratic officers.”

A page from the appeal by former President Donald Trump asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision. <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:AP Photo/Jon Elswick;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">AP Photo/Jon Elswick</a>

Settling the unsettled

The Supreme Courtroom agreed to contemplate Trump’s attraction in early January 2024 as a result of whether or not Trump is constitutionally certified to function the president of the US once more is a important query in an space of regulation that isn’t settled. Whereas the Supreme Courtroom considered some general cases of insurrection and rebellion following the Civil Warfare, the Supreme Courtroom has by no means confronted this particular query relating to Part 3.

The Supreme Courtroom will contemplate whether or not the Colorado Supreme Courtroom erred in ordering the previous president excluded from the 2024 presidential main poll.

However this particular query additionally presents a lot of associated authorized questions that the Supreme Courtroom may additionally resolve, starting from whether or not Part 3 applies to the presidency as to whether Part 3 solely prohibits a candidate from serving in workplace versus showing on any poll. Then, in fact, there’s the factual subject as as to whether the previous president “engaged in an revolt or revolt” in opposition to the US.

The Supreme Courtroom will hear oral arguments in Trump v. Anderson on Feb. 8, 2024.

This text is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit, impartial information group bringing you information and evaluation that can assist you make sense of our advanced world.

It was written by: Wayne Unger, Quinnipiac University.

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