Everything you need to know to understand the Supreme Court's decision in Anderson v. Trump

The Supreme Court has to decide whether Donald Trump can be removed from state ballots, but the complexities of the case need a lot of explanation.
U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments On 14th Amendment And Trump
U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments On 14th Amendment And Trump / Julia Nikhinson/GettyImages
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What will this mean for the future?

The legal system relies on the use of precedent to make decisions, and this decision is going to have a huge impact on the future, however it ends. Both sides of the trial have agreed that a decision should come as soon as possible, so there isn't any uncertainty after the 2024 election has already passed.

As Professor Melone explains, "If Colorado wins the case before the US Supreme Court, it will likely be very significant. If Colorado should fail, it would become only a footnote to history." This is because a rejection of Colorado's perspective would theoretically return the political sphere to its previous state.

However, this may be complicated by how many ambiguities must be addressed. According to Justice Sotomayor, there are different questions at play around whether states can enforce the Insurrection Clause against state officials, federal officials, and the president. So, if the Supreme Court finds that states do not have this authority over the President, there is still the opportunity to enforce it against other offices.

Furthermore, if the Supreme Court does find that Donald Trump can be removed from the ballot, there is a well-defined way to stop it. The 14th Amendment mandates that a 2/3 majority of both houses of Congress can clear Donald Trump (and anyone else accused of insurrection) of impediments to holding office. This would be very difficult to do in such a politically divided time, but it is not impossible. If Congress effectively pardons Donald Trump, all of these questions will be moot.

This case is going to clear up many ambiguities in the 14th Amendment, but that is unlikely to be the end of the case altogether. Clarity just gives both sides more guidance in how to proceed if they want to block a person from holding office based on the 14th Amendment again.

Critical Sources/Further Reading

Denver District Court's Final Order

Colorado Supreme Court Opinion

Transcript of February 8th's arguments before the Supreme Court

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