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US Supreme Court Hands Trump a Major Victory, Rules States Can’t Remove Him From the Ballot

Published: March 5, 2024
Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks in the library at Mar-a-Lago on March 4, 2024 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Image: Alon Skuy/Getty Images)

On Mar. 4, the U.S. Supreme Court barred states from disqualifying candidates from federal office under a constitutional provision involving insurrection, reversing the state of Colorado’s exclusion of Donald Trump from its ballot and barring every other state from removing the former president under the same provision. 

The unanimous 9-0 decision overturns a Dec. 19 decision by Colorado’s top court which removed the former president from the state’s Republican primary.

The Colorado court argued that Trump had participated in an insurrection and claimed that Trump incited and supported the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. capital. 

Colorado’s court previously ruled that Trump was in contravention of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which disqualified him from holding public office again. 

However, the Supreme Court determined that only Congress can enforce the constitutional provision against federal officeholders and candidates, not states. 

“We conclude that states may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office. But states have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the presidency,” the court’s opinion says.

Trump is the clear front runner for the Republican nomination to challenge Joe Biden for the presidency in this November’s federal election. 

The Supreme Court’s ruling comes just one day before Super Tuesday, when 16 states vote for their Democrat and Republican nominees. 

Two other states, Maine and Illinois were seeking to remove Trump from the ballot under the same provision, however this decision by the country’s top court nullifies these attempts. 


Trump reacts

Following the decision, Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, “BIG WIN FOR AMERICA!!!” and said that the decision will be a unifying factor.

“I think it will go a long way toward bringing our country together, which our country needs,” Trump said.

“They worked long, they worked hard, and frankly, they worked very quickly on something that will be spoken about 100 years from now and 200 years from now,” Trump said, adding that, “The voters can take someone out of the race, but a court shouldn’t be doing that.”

Had the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, other states could have gone through a similar process as Colorado and attempt to remove Trump from the ballot, resulting in broader political implications.  

One of Trump’s lawyers, Harmeet K. Dhillon of the Dhillon Law Group, said the decision preserves the integrity of the American electoral system.

“This victory is not just for President Trump but for the integrity of our electoral system and the rights of voters across the country,” he said Monday. “The attempt to use the 14th Amendment in this manner was a dangerous overreach that, if left unchallenged, could have set a perilous precedent for future election[s].” 

Jena Griswold, the Colorado Secretary of State however expressed disappointment in the decision, posting on social media that Colorado should have the right to remove Trump from the ballot.

“I am disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision stripping states of the authority to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment for federal candidates. Colorado should be able to bar oath-breaking insurrections from our ballot,” she wrote.


Intense rhetoric

The Supreme Court’s decision has rattled many opposed to Trump’s candidacy.

On Monday in an interview with CNN, Judge J. Michael Luttig said the court’s decision was  “stunning in its overreach,” and that it essentially bars American courts from disqualifying anyone under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

“The court today decided that no person in the future will ever be disqualified under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, regardless [of] whether he or she has engaged in an insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution of the United States,” he argued.

The day after the ruling, Rolling Stone published an article alleging that America’s top independent court is “titling” the 2024 presidential election in “Trump’s favor.”

“For the second time in a week, the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority has blessed the Donald Trump campaign with a favorable ruling,” the outlet wrote.

“While the Supreme Court refused to help Trump steal the election in 2020, its recent maneuvers could easily tilt 2024 in his favor,” wrote Adam Rawnsley and Asawin Suebsaeng for Rolling Stone. 

Following the ruling, Utah senator Mike Lee, took to X to celebrate, writing, “Good. The Colorado insurrection failed.”

Utah Representative Burgess Owens celebrated the ruling as well, posting on X, “An UNANIMOUS Supreme Court decision declaring that states can’t kick President Trump off the ballot is a WIN for every American!”

Nikki Haley, Trump’s only remaining opponent for the Republican nomination said at a rally in Texas following the ruling, “The Supreme Court ruled today that Donald Trump could stay on the ballot… I think that was important… I’ll defeat Donald Trump fair and square but I want him on that ballot.”