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US Supreme Court: Trump eligible in primaries

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US Supreme Court: Trump eligible in primaries

The United States Supreme Court eliminated a potential obstacle to Donald Trump’s reconquest of the White House, rejecting unanimously the ruling of a Colorado court which had declared the former president ineligible for his actions during the assault on the Capitol, establishing that a state cannot make such a decision.

The ruling in favor of the former president came on the eve of the primaries of Super Tuesdaywhen 15 states, including Colorado (northwest), will simultaneously hold primaries for the November presidential election, which should consolidate Trump’s march to the Republican nomination to challenge President Joe Biden in November.

It was about the most important electoral case heard by the Court since he blocked a Florida vote recount in 2000, with Republican George W. Bush narrowly ahead of Democrat Al Gore.

The Supreme Court decision

The question before the nine justices was whether Trump was ineligible to appear on the ballot in Colorado’s Republican presidential primary for participating in theassault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021when hundreds of his supporters, inflamed by his baseless accusations of election fraud, stormed the sanctuary of American democracy in an attempt to prevent the certification of the victory of his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.

With a 9-0 decisionthe conservative-dominated Court declared that “the ruling of the Colorado Supreme Court…cannot be accepted,” meaning that Trump may appear on the state’s primary ballotor. “All nine members of the Court agree with this result,” the ruling reads, though one conservative and the three liberal justices dissented on some technical aspects. They criticize Chief Justice John Roberts and the Court’s four other conservatives for going beyond the scope of the case, even establishing the conditions under which Congress could exercise its power to disqualify a nominee.

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Trump hailed the decision, declaring a “Great Victory for America!” in a post on his website Truth Social and paid tribute to the nine judges, three of whom were appointed during his tenure, for “working so quickly, so diligently and so brilliantly.”

“This is in no way a victory for Trump,” he reacted Noah Bookbinderpresident of the anti-corruption citizens group Crew, which initiated the proceedings in Colorado, stressing that the Supreme Court ruled solely “on technical legal grounds” and not on the facts.

The 14th Amendment and accountability to Congress

Il 14th Amendment – cited by the Colorado Supreme Court last December to exclude Trump from the elections after the assault on Congress – was adopted in 1868 and was aimed at supporters of the separatist Confederacy, defeated in the American Civil War (1861-1865), with the aim of prevent them from being elected to Congress or from holding federal office. There section 3 of this amendment excluded, in fact, from the highest public offices anyone who had carried out acts of “insurrection or rebellion” after having sworn to defend the Constitution.

During two hours of arguments last month, US Supreme Court justices, both conservative and liberal, expressed concern that individual states decide which candidates get on the November presidential ballot . Hence, the decision taken by the Supreme Court which, as many experts had predicted, did not venture into the minefield of qualifying the actions of the former president, but stated that “the responsibility to apply Section 3 against federal office holders and candidates it is up to Congress and not the states“, and that the principle applies “in particular (to) the Presidency”. Letting each state decide the issue separately could result in a veritable “patchwork quilt,” in which “a candidate could be declared ineligible in some states and not in others, based on the same conduct,” the Court noted.

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The Secretary of State of Colorado, Jena Griswoldsaid she was “disappointed by the Supreme Court decision depriving states” of the power to remove federal candidates from ballots: the state should be able to exclude insurrectionists “who break their oath.”

The ruling effectively nullifies other state challenges similar to Trump’s primary appearance, also in Maine, which also votes on Super Tuesday. The Secretary of State of Maine, Shenna Bellowsdeclared that Trump’s exclusion from the vote had been reversed, writing in a statement that votes cast for Trump “will be counted.”

His only remaining rival in the Republican primary, the former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley, told CNN she was pleased with the decision. “I’m trying to defeat Donald Trump fair and square. I don’t need them to take him off the ballot to do that,” she said.

Other legal disputes

The Supreme Court, historically reluctant to get involved in political issues, takes center stage this year in the race for the White House. In addition to the Colorado case, the High Court has agreed to hear the Trump’s request to be immune from criminal prosecution as a former president and could not stand trial on separate charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election. Trump was impeached by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives for inciting the insurrection, but was acquitted thanks to support from Republicans in the Senate.

March 25th is scheduled process in New York on charges of covering up the payment of dirty money to a porn star ahead of the 2016 elections.

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In another case, Trump faces federal charges in Florida for refusing to hand over top secret documents after leaving the White House.

© Agence France-Presse

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