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The Supreme Court and 2024 Election

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Former President Trump’s political future and the contentious 2024 presidential election could hinge in part on a series of legal issues that the Supreme Court is poised to consider in the coming months.

Why it matters: Regardless of how the court rules, it could anger Americans on either side of the nation’s political divide, and further damage the public’s historically low trust in the Supreme Court.

  • Here are the legal issues the Supreme Court could rule on that have implications for Trump and the 2024 election:

Colorado’s 14th Amendment ballot case

Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause disqualifies Trump from appearing on the state’s ballots in next year’s presidential election.

  • It found that Trump’s behavior toward the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and his efforts to overturn the election amounted to him inciting violence and lawlessness to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
  • The state court stayed the ruling until Jan. 4 subject to appeal, though it may remain in place if the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the case before then.
  • The Trump campaign has promised to appeal the Colorado court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

State of play: If the high court agrees to hear the case, the justices could move to decide whether Trump’s actions amounted to engaging in “insurrection or rebellion” against the government or functioned as aid to “enemies” of the government.

  • The insurrection clause stipulates that such actions amount to acts of insurrection, which can disqualify someone from public office.
  • If the U.S. Supreme Court does not overrule the lower court decision, Trump could be left off of the state’s ballot and would automatically lose its 10 votes in the Electoral College.

Although Trump has been charged with four counts by a federal grand jury for his actions leading up to and after the election, he has not yet been tried for, or convicted of, any crime.

Does Trump have presidential immunity?

Special counsel Jack Smith asked the Supreme Court earlier this month to determine whether Trump can broadly invoke presidential immunity to avoid prosecution in the federal 2020 election interference case against him.

  • The former president’s lawyers have argued that Trump should have immunity because he was acting within the “outer perimeter” of his official duties when he spread conspiracies about the election and led efforts to overturn its results.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court rejected Smith’s request to immediately fact-track consideration of the case.

  • The decision raises the possibility that Trump’s federal 2020 election trial stretches beyond the currently scheduled March 4 start date.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will now consider the immunity question, with oral arguments slated next month. The Supreme Court could then decide whether to hear an appeal in the case after the lower court issues its ruling.
  • A prolonged appeals process could push Trump’s trial back further into the 2024 campaign season or even after the election.
  • The outcome of the case could also influence a racketeering case brought by prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, against Trump and several of his allies over their alleged efforts subvert the state’s 2020 election results.

The Jan. 6 obstruction case

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court agreed to take up a Jan. 6 participant’s appeal over an obstruction of an official proceeding charge he received for participating in the attack on the Capitol.

  • At issue in the case is the application and definition of 18 U.S.C. 1512(c), which outlaws the obstruction of an official proceeding by destroying, altering or concealing a “record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so.”
  • Trump received the charge in his 2020 election interference case.

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