Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Amy Coney Barrett had a different opinion than most on the matter involving Trump, yet she scolded the liberals instead

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett shared two different messages in her brief opinion on Monday when the Supreme Court ruled that states couldn’t exclude former President Donald Trump from the ballot.

She criticized her fellow right-leaning justices for delving into significant legal reasoning, which she considered unnecessary.

“In my judgment, this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency,” Barrett wrote. “The Court has settled a politically charged issue in the volatile season of a Presidential election. Particularly in this circumstance, writings on the Court should turn the national temperature down, not up.”

The 52-year-old justice, appointed by Trump, emphasized that despite their differences, the justices were largely in agreement, indicating that the liberals’ statements contradicted that unity.

“All nine Justices agree on the outcome of this case,” Barrett wrote. “That is the message Americans should take home.”

However, Barrett’s statement, without support from other justices, highlighted the ideological tensions within the court rather than easing them. It was noteworthy that Barrett, in rebuking the liberals, chose more strongly worded language than usual.

The ideological divisions within the court are expected to intensify as they address more Trump-related litigation in April and issue decisions this spring on challenges to Biden administration policies.

The Supreme Court has not played such a significant role in a presidential election since the 2000 Bush v. Gore case. Barrett, appointed just before the 2020 election, has been a pivotal figure, contributing to the conservative majority on the bench and influencing the court’s direction, notably with the 2022 decision on Roe v. Wade.

Amy Coney Barrett, despite often aligning with conservative views, has shown moments of unpredictability within her legal decisions. Liberal justices have directed their arguments toward her, hoping she might lean left over time, much like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who have occasionally straddled the middle ground.

On Monday, Barrett sided with liberal justices to some extent on legal reasoning but also highlighted her distinctions.

The Supreme Court rejected a Colorado decision that aimed to prevent Trump from appearing on presidential ballots, stating that states lack the authority to enforce the crucial provision in question.

According to the 14th Amendment’s Section 3, “No person shall … hold any office … under the United States … who, having previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion.”

In December, the Colorado Supreme Court disqualified Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballots, citing his role in inciting the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, and his protests against the 2020 election results favoring Joe Biden. Despite the Colorado ruling being temporarily delayed as Trump appealed, his name remained on the ballots.

During oral arguments on February 8, it was evident that a majority, if not all nine justices, were inclined to overturn the Colorado decision. They believed that no individual state should have the authority to disqualify a candidate for a national office on its own.

On Monday, the court issued an opinion, stating, “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…”

Even the three liberal justices who differed in reasoning agreed that the Constitution prohibits individual states from setting their own qualifications for a presidential candidate.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson concurred, emphasizing that allowing Colorado to set its own qualifications would create a chaotic state-by-state system, contradicting federalism principles.

Referencing past cases, the liberal trio quoted Chief Justice Roberts, protesting the majority’s extensive reversal of abortion rights. They criticized the majority for limiting Section 3 enforcement only after Congress passed specific legislation, excluding other potential federal enforcement methods.

Joining Roberts in the majority were Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh.

Barrett aligned with the liberals in acknowledging that addressing the question of exclusive enforcement through federal legislation wasn’t necessary. However, she criticized the liberals for their “stridency,” suggesting they took the wrong path in their response.

Barrett’s critique echoed Chief Justice Roberts, who often urges the public to focus on shared values rather than differences between justices. Roberts has expressed his disapproval of dissenting justices criticizing decisions as exceeding the judiciary’s proper role.

In Monday’s case, the liberal justices, despite writing a concurring opinion rather than a dissent, maintained their disagreement without tempering their remarks. They even invoked a dissenting opinion from Bush v. Gore: “What it does today, the Court should have left undone.” Today’s liberals added, “In a sensitive case crying out for judicial restraint, it abandons that course.”

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