States can’t remove Trump from ballot, Supreme Court says

Source: Politico | March 4, 2024 | Zach Montellaro, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney

The justices, though, did not weigh in on whether Trump engaged in an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

States have no authority to remove Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday, short-circuiting efforts by his detractors to declare him disqualified over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The justices did not weigh in on the fraught question of whether Trump engaged in an insurrection by attempting to subvert the 2020 election results or stoking the violence on Jan. 6. But the high court ruled in an unsigned opinion that only Congress, not the states, can disqualify a presidential candidate under the Constitution’s “insurrection clause.”

The high court’s decision overturns a Colorado ruling that would have removed Trump from the ballot there. And it spells doom for a slew of other state-level challenges to Trump’s eligibility under an interpretation of a 14th Amendment clause that says that those who engaged in an “insurrection” after taking an oath to support the Constitution are disqualified from holding office again.

The decision to keep Trump on the ballot was expected. During oral arguments on Feb. 8, justices across the ideological spectrum signaled that they were uncomfortable with allowing individual states to assess the eligibility of presidential candidates accused of insurrection.

Monday’s 13-page opinion echoed that concern. Allowing states to make that judgment could result in an inconsistent and dangerous patchwork of conflicting rulings, with a candidate appearing on some states’ ballots but not on others, the court wrote.


No individual justice was listed as the author of the court’s main opinion; instead, the opinion was labeled as “per curiam,” a legal phrase meaning on behalf of the court.

The three liberal justices wrote a separate opinion, saying that they agreed with the result but that they would have issued a narrower ruling that left open the possibility of federal courts disqualifying Trump or another candidate alleged to have engaged in insurrection.


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