Sunday, April 14, 2024

Trump is running for election, but the Supreme Court didn’t give clear answers to important questions about the Constitution

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Certainly: The upcoming election will feature Donald Trump as a candidate across all states. The recent Supreme Court decision clarified Trump’s eligibility for a second term but left lingering questions that may resurface later.

For example, could Democratic lawmakers disqualify Trump in January if he wins the November election? Or, can a state prevent a president seeking a third term from appearing on its ballot? The decision left uncertainties, and some issues may bounce back to the justices.

The court, on a tight timeline, aimed for a quick resolution, considering the divisive nature of the case. There are questions remaining, and Donald Sherman from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington believes the court’s solution might not be as smooth as they hope.

Trump praised the decision at Mar-a-Lago, calling it “well crafted” and stating it would contribute to national unity. However, some unresolved issues include how to handle candidates labeled as “insurrectionists” for state office. The court didn’t define insurrection or the processes for determining a candidate’s involvement, leaving state courts to figure it out.

The Supreme Court emphasized that states can disqualify individuals from holding state office but provided no clear guidelines, potentially leading to disputes in the future. An appeal involving a former New Mexico county commissioner removed due to the January 6 attack is pending, raising questions about the enforcement of the “insurrectionist ban.”

Concerns about a constitutional crisis were raised before the decision. If Trump wins and faces disqualification, some fear it could lead to a crisis, especially if he is convicted in ongoing criminal cases. The court’s opinion might have averted this by requiring Congress to enact legislation for the disqualification process, a challenging task in today’s politically divided climate.

In essence, while the court resolved some aspects, uncertainties and potential issues persist, leaving room for future legal and political developments.

Some people thought the opinion was a bit unclear, and there might be a conflict over the rules of the Constitution.

According to Gerard Magliocca, a law professor at Indiana University, the opinion doesn’t clearly say what happens if Trump wins the election. He thinks it’s unclear, and if Trump does win, it could make things more complicated and unpleasant during the presidential transition.

Another question is whether states can remove a candidate who is clearly not eligible before the election or if the Constitution’s rules only apply to serving in office. The Constitution says a president must be at least 35 years old. Can a state remove a 25-year-old candidate from the ballot? What if a president tries to run for a third term, breaking the 22nd Amendment? These unlikely scenarios were discussed during the Trump ballot cases.

The six Colorado voters who sued Trump brought up a case from 2012 where a presidential candidate born in Guyana was involved, despite the Constitution requiring a “natural born citizen” for the president.

Law professor Somin said that the majority’s reasoning about states not being able to disqualify people might apply to other election qualifications too. He predicted that a candidate trying to bypass other constitutional qualifications would likely lose. However, he pointed out that the 14th Amendment explicitly gives Congress the power to enforce its provisions. The court’s conservatives acknowledged this in their opinion, referring to the power vested in Congress to enforce the insurrectionist ban.

Somin noted that other eligibility requirements in Article II and other constitutional amendments don’t have similar clarifications in the majority’s opinion, raising the possibility of future legal disputes.

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