The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for roughly two hours on Thursday regarding former President Donald Trump’s ballot eligibility in Colorado.
This case revolves around allegations that the former president violated Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that no person can hold a public office if they took an oath on the Constitution and later “engaged in insurrection.”
A previous ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court barred Trump from appearing on the state’s GOP primary ballot, prompting the former president to file an appeal with SCOTUS, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
The hearing began with arguments by Trump’s legal team, with attorney Jonathan Mitchell saying that the “Colorado supreme court’s decision is wrong and should be reversed for numerous, independent reasons,” per The Associated Press.
Mitchell said that the events on January 6, 2021, do not qualify as an insurrection, adding that an insurrection requires “an organized, concerted effort to overthrow the government of the United States through violence.”
“We didn’t concede that it’s an effort to overthrow the government either. None of these criteria were met. This was a riot. It was not an insurrection,” he said, per the AP.
“The events were shameful, criminal, violent, all of those things but did not qualify as an insurrection as that term is used in Section 3.”
Attorney Jason Murray, representing plaintiff Norma Anderson, presented his arguments next and argued that this case “illustrates the danger of refusing to apply Section 3 as written.”
“The reason we’re here is [Trump tried] to disenfranchise 80 million Americans who voted against him, and the Constitution doesn’t require that you be given another chance,” he said, as reported by NBC News.
While speaking with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Murray said that the criminal prosecution system does not always work as planned, and many people have gone unpunished for some actions.
“I would just make the point that the framers of Section 3 clearly understood that criminal prosecutions weren’t sufficient because oftentimes insurrectionists go unpunished, as was the case in the Civil War, and that the least we can do is impose a civil disqualification penalty,” he said, per NBC News.
SCOTUS justices reportedly sounded skeptical about the arguments to remove the former president from the ballot, with Justice Elena Kagan saying that it “seems quite extraordinary” that a single state could have such a large impact on the election.
“Why should a single state have the ability to make this determination not only for their own citizens but also for the nation?” she questioned, per CNN.
Derek Muller, an election law expert at Notre Dame Law School, said after the hearing that the SCOTUS judges “seemed inclined to let the political process play out” and keep Trump on the Colorado ballot.
“The justices seemed concerned that one state could affect the entire presidential election process, and that there needed to be some guidance from Congress before such an extraordinary measure could be taken,” he said, per CNN.
Both sides were reportedly confident following the ending of the hearing, with Murray saying that his team is “confident that the Supreme Court will apply Section 3 as written.”
“This is very personal to me. I’ve lived a hell of a long time, and I’ve gone through a lot of presidents, and this is the first one that’s tried to destroy the Constitution,” added Anderson at a press conference, per NBC News.
Similarly, the former president was confident in his case while speaking to reporters, saying he was happy with how his team approached the case.
“I listened today, and I thought our arguments were very, very strong,” he said, per the AP.