In a twist of legal and historical intricacies, former President Donald Trump's eligibility for the 2024 presidential ballot in Colorado is under scrutiny.
A case from 1968, where a presidential candidate was barred for being too young, is now a focal point in a legal argument that could potentially disqualify Trump, drawing on claims of his involvement in the January 6th, 2021 insurrection.
A 1968 case where a presidential candidate was kept off the ballot for being too young is being used to argue that Donald Trump could be barred from the 2024 ballot in Colorado over claims he engaged in insurrection on January 6th, 2021. However, a lower court allowed Trump on the ballot while stating it's unclear if the insurrectionist ban applies to the presidency.
Donald Trump appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court after a lower court's ruling. This court found that while Trump engaged in insurrection, he could remain on the 2024 ballot. The former President vehemently denies any wrongdoing related to January 6th, 2021.
The legal debate hinges on the interpretation of past cases. Law professor Derek T. Muller brings to light the 1968 case of Eldridge Cleaver, a Peace and Freedom Party candidate barred from the California ballot for not meeting the age requirement to be president.
Muller's briefing suggests that this case, among others, indicates a state's authority to disqualify ineligible candidates.
Muller's argument extends to other instances where presidential candidates were excluded based on eligibility criteria. This includes a 1972 candidate barred for being underage and a 2008 candidate disqualified for not being a U.S. citizen. These cases collectively underline the precedent of state power in determining candidate eligibility.
The complexity of the issue is further highlighted by the lower court's stance on the 14th Amendment. The court ruled that the Amendment's ban on insurrectionists holding office may not be applicable to presidential candidates.
This ruling is now being appealed by both Trump and his opponents.
The appeal court is now faced with a critical decision. It could acknowledge Trump's alleged engagement in insurrection and consequently remove him from the ballot, invoking the 14th Amendment. This outcome would be unprecedented in modern American politics.
While Muller acknowledges that the likelihood of the court barring Trump is low, he emphasizes that it remains a tangible possibility. The implications of such a decision would resonate beyond the immediate legal battle, potentially setting a significant precedent for future elections.
Eldridge Cleaver's story adds a layer of historical context to the current legal debate. Once a radical figure, Cleaver later renounced his past and joined the Republican Party.
Regarding the 1968 case, Muller wrote:
"Cleaver was the 33-year-old nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party. He challenged the exclusion in state court, which rejected his challenge. Cleaver petitioned for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. Without comment, the Court rejected the petition."
Trump's defense challenges the notion that states have the authority to judge the qualifications of presidential candidates. However, Muller counters this perspective, citing historical instances where states indeed exercised such power.
"[Trump] has argued that states have no power to judge the qualifications of candidates or that it is a political question. The historical record however suggests that in at least some cases, states have excluded candidates."
This juxtaposition of viewpoints underscores the complex interplay between federal guidelines and state jurisdiction in determining eligibility for presidential candidacy.
As the legal proceedings advance, the Colorado Supreme Court's decision will be closely watched. It not only affects Trump's political future but also could influence how states interpret and apply constitutional amendments and their own laws in vetting presidential candidates.
The case tests the boundaries of state power versus federal election norms. It also raises questions about the role of past legal precedents in shaping present-day political landscapes.