In a decisive legal turn, former top U.S. officials have entered the fray over a former president's political future.
Three former U.S. attorneys general have stepped into a Supreme Court battle over Donald Trump's presidential candidacy.
Three ex-attorneys general, including Bill Barr, have filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, challenging a state court's ruling. The Colorado Supreme Court previously decided that the Fourteenth Amendment's "Insurrection Clause" should disqualify Trump from appearing on the presidential ballot.
Despite his involvement in the brief, Bill Barr has publicly stated that he does not support Trump's campaign for the Republican nomination.
The brief, contributed to by Edwin Meese III, Michael B. Mukasey, and several law professors, argues against the Colorado court's interpretation. It claims that the "Insurrection Clause" was never intended to apply to presidential candidates. Citizens United and the former attorneys general have raised concerns about the potential misuse of the clause for partisan disqualifications.
The brief delves into the historical context of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified after the Civil War in 1868. It underscores that the framers' main concern was preventing Confederates from holding congressional seats, not barring them from the presidency.
According to the brief, the list of public offices in the amendment does not include the presidency in its hierarchy.
Law professors Steven Calabresi and Gary Lawson, acting as Amici Curiae, support this viewpoint. They argue that the clause should not be misinterpreted to exclude individuals from presidential elections.
Furthermore, the brief stresses that Section Three of the amendment is not self-enacting and points to a lack of charges or conviction of Trump under the federal insurrection statute.
The brief warns of the dangerous precedent that could arise from the Colorado decision. It suggests that such a ruling could lead to the disqualification of political opponents based on partisan bias. Maine's Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has also declared Trump ineligible for the Maine ballot based on the Insurrection Clause, indicating a potential trend.
The former attorneys general caution against the Colorado Supreme Court's decision, emphasizing its broader implications. They conclude that Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment should not prevent any American from running for the presidency without additional legislation. The case, Trump v. Anderson, No. 23-719, is under scrutiny as it could influence future interpretations of presidential eligibility.
According to the brief:
Historical records... reveal that the Framers and ratifiers of the Fourteenth Amendment were not concerned that a Confederate leader could attain the presidency. The text speaks to a hierarchy of public offices in descending rank order... and even if the conclusion that he engaged in an insurrection were correct, President Trump cannot be excluded from any presidential election ballot on that basis.
The intervention of three former U.S. attorneys general in the Supreme Court has added a significant twist to the ongoing debate over Donald Trump's eligibility to run for president. Their amicus brief challenges the Colorado Supreme Court's interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment's "Insurrection Clause" and warns of the potential for its partisan misuse.
They assert that the presidency was not the concern of the amendment's framers and that, without a conviction under the relevant insurrection statute, Trump cannot be barred from the ballot. The case underscores the contentious political climate and the ongoing discussions in the legal community regarding constitutional law and presidential eligibility.
The ultimate decision by the U.S. Supreme Court could have far-reaching consequences for how the Fourteenth Amendment is applied in the future.