Chicago/ Politics & Govt
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Published on March 04, 2024
Trump Triumphs as Supreme Court Paves His Path to 2024 Illinois Primary BallotSource: Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In a unanimous verdict that may have just reshaped the 2024 presidential election landscape, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for former President Donald Trump to remain on the Illinois primary ballot. In throwing out a previous decision by the Colorado Supreme Court, the justices determined states lack the authority to disqualify a candidate from the ballot based on the "insurrection clause" of the 14th Amendment without Congressional action, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

This legal twist effectively overrides a Cook County judge's February 28 order which had sought to quickly sever to remove Trump from the March 19 ballot, citing a ruling in Colorado that branded him as having engaged in insurrection during the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot. Despite the prior findings, the highest court declared that the 14th Amendment empowers Congress, with judicial oversight, "to pass 'appropriate legislation' to 'enforce' the Fourteenth Amendment," thereby backpedaling Illinois into political normalcy with Trump as a viable candidate, according to the NBC Chicago report.

The Supreme Court's intervention has put an end to initiatives in various states, including Illinois, to disqualify Trump, despite Cook County Judge Tracie Porter's earlier finding that his signing on January 4 of a statement of candidacy falsely swore he was "'legally qualified' for the presidency." Porter's stance, echoed in the rulings from Colorado and Maine, now holds no water, following this landmark Supreme Court reversal just one day before the Super Tuesday primaries.

Adding to the political drama, the provision at the heart of the case — Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — does not directly reference the presidency, leading to Supreme Court skepticism of the arguments to keep Trump off the ballot. The recent hearings returned the justices to a similar theater of contested elections not seen since the Bush v. Gore case over two decades ago. Meanwhile, the former president's legal team asserted that January 6th didn't rise to the level of insurrection and that even if it did, Trump had not personally participated in or abetted such activities.

Legal experts and observers had kept a keen eye on this ruling, some warning that its requirement for a congressional green light to implement Section 3 could trigger another constitutional showdown should Trump win in November and a Democratic Congress attempt to invalidate the results under this same clause. "The issue then could return to the court, possibly in the midst of a full-blown constitutional crisis," NBC Chicago pointed out, emphasizing the delicate balancing act the Supreme Court faces in such politically charged litigation.