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Trump should never have been taken off the ballot

The Supreme Court is right to overturn Colorado's anti-democratic ruling.

Luke Gittos

Luke Gittos
Columnist

Topics Politics USA

The US Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the state of Colorado cannot block Donald Trump from running for president. Monday’s ruling came a day before Super Tuesday, when Colorado will be among 15 states and one territory holding votes in the Republican presidential primaries.

The original decision to remove Trump from the ballot in Colorado was always a controversial one. Last year, a group of voters pursued a case against Trump, claiming that he incited an ‘insurrection’ (the ‘6 January’ riot) and should therefore be prevented from standing for election under the 14th Amendment. This states that ‘No person shall be a senator or representative in congress, or elector of president’, if they ‘have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof’.

In September, the Colorado District Court decided that Trump had indeed ‘engaged in insurrection’, but that the office of president was not covered by the 14th Amendment. The anti-Trump plaintiffs then took their case to the Colorado Supreme Court. In December, the justices there, all appointed by Democratic governors, ruled that the amendment did in fact apply to the office of president. The court promptly ordered the removal of Trump’s name from the ‘2024 presidential primary ballot’.

Now the US Supreme Court has found Colorado’s ruling wanting. It ruled that state courts have no power to remove a presidential candidate from a ballot on the basis of the 14th Amendment. The majority of justices went further, stating that ‘appropriate legislation’ to ‘enforce’ the 14th Amendment would be required. In other words, an act of congress would be needed to specify precisely who could be prevented from running.

Trump’s victory is good news. You don’t have to agree with a word he says to recognise the democratic importance of him being able to run for president. Citizens, not judges, should have the right to decide whether or not Trump should be the next president. And there are clearly many Americans who do want to put a tick next to the Republican frontrunner, with latest polling giving Trump a lead over President Biden.

Preventing Trump from being able to run in Colorado would have warped the presidential election result. It would not have only denied the voters of Colorado the chance to vote for Trump. It would also have denied him votes in the national electoral college.

The Supreme Court ruling is undoubtedly good news for Trump, but he’s not out of the woods yet. He still faces several criminal prosecutions, including allegations that he conspired to overturn the result of the 2020 election. These cases will take their course. Whatever their outcome, however, it is vital that the power to decide the outcome of the next election rests with the voters.

As the Colorado case demonstrates, it’s clear that some are trying to weaponise the constitution for partisan ends. Some Democrats and other anti-Trumpers would prefer to fight the next election in the courts, rather than at the ballot box. They cannot be allowed to get their wish.

Luke Gittos is a spiked columnist and author. His most recent book is Human Rights – Illusory Freedom: Why We Should Repeal the Human Rights Act, which is published by Zero Books. Order it here.

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Topics Politics USA

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