With Trump Case, SCOTUS Steps 'Into Freshly Fallen Snow'

It will consider whether the 14th Amendment prevents Trump from holding office
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2024 11:13 AM CST
SCOTUS Is About to Hear One of Its Weightiest Cases
The fate of former President Trump’s attempt to return to the White House is in the Supreme Court’s hands. On Thursday, the justices will hear arguments in Trump’s appeal of a Colorado Supreme Court ruling that he is not eligible to run again because he violated a provision in the 14th Amendment.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Of all the Donald Trump-related court moments of recent months, Thursday's will be among the most consequential, and certainly the most historic. As the New Republic puts it: The Supreme Court is "stepping out into freshly fallen snow." It will be the first time a case about the Constitution's disqualification clause will be heard by the court, as it decides whether the 14th Amendment prohibits Trump from holding office. In December, Colorado's highest court decided it did; the justices accepted Trump's request to hear the case. Some of the best reporting about what Thursday holds, and what the outcome could mean:

  • The New Republic lays out the three biggest questions of all the questions the court will weigh in Trump v. Anderson: "whether the president is an 'officer of the United States,' whether Trump 'engaged in insurrection,' and whether the disqualification clause is self-enforcing—that is, whether further action by Congress is needed before it can take effect." Its piece neatly examines the legal arguments on both sides.

  • The AP reports the court could issue a decisive ruling—or not. It would have a few ways to skirt having to do so: by issuing a ruling that solely applies to Colorado; by saying "the issue is not yet ripe for a decision," as the AP puts it; or by determining the decision isn't the court's to make, but rests with the political branches of government and voters. The full piece delves into whether, why, and how they could potentially hand it off to Congress in particular.
  • The Guardian gets an expert's take ... and it's mushy. "I feel more at sea than I usually do," says UCLA election law professor Richard Hasen, who co-authored an amicus brief submitted in the case. "There are a million ways the court can go. The court has given no signal, at all, as to which of those directions it wants to go in. And so, more than usual, I'm going to be very closely listening to the oral arguments to see which arguments are resonating with which justices."
  • If it takes the decisive ruling route, what will the fallout be? Politico posed that question to "some of the smartest political analysts, legal scholars, and security experts out there." You can read their answers here, which range from the Supreme Court's legacy getting a boost to violence erupting.
  • As CNN reports, Thursday is a big day for the Supreme Court but a big day for Chief Justice John Roberts in particular. Its piece delves into what the best outcome for Roberts would be: a unanimous vote.
(More 14th Amendment stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.