Supreme Court, in Break From Precedent, Hints That Decision on Barring Trump From 2024 Ballots Is Imminent

A resolution of the case on Monday, a day before Super Tuesday, would remove uncertainty about whether votes for Mr. Trump will ultimately count.

AP/J. Scott Applewhite, file
The Supreme Court at Washington, October 10, 2017. AP/J. Scott Applewhite, file

A Supreme Court decision could come as soon as Monday in the case about whether President Trump can be kicked off the ballot over his efforts to undo his defeat in the 2020 election.

Cryptic word came down from the high court on Sunday, with an announcement that the Nine “may announce opinions” on its “homepage” on Monday morning even though the justices “will not take the bench.” That has heightened speculation that a ruling could come on whether Mr. Trump is eligible for office under Section Three of the 14th Amendment. 

Opinions on the merits — like this one would be —  are traditionally reported from the bench, making this method of delivery unusual. The Sun spoke to a legal sage, Joshua Blackman, who speculated that “we may get a per curiam opinion,” meaning one signed by the court as a whole. 

Mr. Blackman also observes that decisions read from the bench allow for dissents to be delivered out loud, which is precluded by this format. This suggests a unified — possibly a unanimous — court, not a riven one. Oral arguments appeared to suggest that the justices look at the case for disqualification with gimlet eyes.

Mr. Trump is challenging a groundbreaking decision by the Colorado Supreme Court that said he is disqualified from being president again and ineligible for the state’s primary, which is Tuesday.

The resolution of the case on Monday, a day before Super Tuesday contests in 16 states, would remove uncertainty about whether votes for Mr. Trump, the leading Republican candidate for president, will ultimately count. Both sides had requested fast work by the court, which heard arguments less than a month ago, on February 8.

The Colorado court was the first to invoke a post-Civil War constitutional provision aimed at preventing those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office. Mr. Trump also has since been barred from primary ballots in Illinois and Maine, though both decisions, along with Colorado’s, are on hold pending the outcome of the Supreme Court case.

The Supreme Court has until now never ruled on the provision, Section 3 of the 14th amendment.

The court indicated Sunday there will be at least one case decided Monday, adhering to its custom of not saying which one. But it also departed from its usual practice in some respects, heightening the expectation that it’s the Trump ballot case that will be handed down.

Except for when the end of the term nears in late June, the court almost always issues decisions on days when the justices are scheduled to take the bench. But the next scheduled court day isn’t until March 15. And apart from during the coronavirus pandemic when the court was closed, the justices almost always read summaries of their opinions in the courtroom. They won’t be there Monday.

Any opinions will post on the court’s website beginning just after 10 a.m. eastern time Monday.

Separately, the justices last week agreed to hear arguments in late April over whether Mr. Trump can be criminally prosecuted on election interference charges, including his role in the January 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol. The court’s decision to step into the politically charged case, also with little in the way of precedent to guide it, calls into question whether Mr. Trump will stand trial before the November election.

The former president faces 91 criminal charges in four prosecutions. Of those, the only one with a trial date that seems poised to hold is his state case in New York, where he’s charged with falsifying business records in connection with hush money payments to a porn actress. That case is set for trial on March 25, and the judge has signaled his determination to press ahead.

Associated Press


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