Forget the Supreme Court, Beat Trump at the Ballot

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled today that former President Donald Trump can appear on the ballot in Colorado for the upcoming presidential election.

The decision came after six Colorado voters filed a lawsuit against Trump and the Colorado secretary of state, arguing that when Trump on Jan. 6 led an insurrection to breach the Capitol as Congress certified the 2020 election results, he was constitutionally ineligible to serve as president again because of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Supreme Court Hands Trump a Big Win in Colorado Ballot Case

Section 3, in summation, states that an elected official—or a judicial or executive officer—can not have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the nation. And Congress, by a two-thirds vote in each chamber, can remove this obstacle from allowing them to serve.

On the more specific question of whether a state could follow what Colorado tried to do and throw a federal candidate off the ballot, the Supreme Court was further divided.

Six justices, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh wrote that no state could throw a federal candidate off the ballot. Meanwhile, the Court’s three liberal-leaning justices, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, agreed with the main result of the decision but maintained that this decision was far too broad and “shuts the door on other potential means of federal enforcement.”

Ever since the Supreme Court in January granted a review of this case, it has become a liberal rallying cry. Democrats far and wide have acted as if this could be the moment when the dam breaks for Trump—and when he would finally be held accountable for Jan. 6.

If the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot Had Never Happened, Trump Still Attempted a Self-Coup

But, as the justices mentioned in their decision, the practicality of banning Trump from one state’s ballot and not others would create a “chaotic state-by-state patchwork” election that would be directly at odds with federalism and the way elections have run in this country for years. Still, some Democrats over the past few months fervently believed this was still the best way to beat Trump.

Outside of the insane situation a patchwork election system would create, the Democrats who pushed this idea didn’t even think through the political implications.

Let’s imagine ourselves in an alternate universe where the Supreme Court today did, in fact, bar Trump from the ballot. The response from Republicans—and likely some independent voters—wouldn’t be jubilation, it would be frustration.

They’d argue that instead of allowing the democratic process to happen, unelected jurists came in and ended the contest before it began. Democrats would have to again deal with the false narrative that they tipped the scales in an election. Although this is a plainly ridiculous notion and would remain completely untrue, it’s a distraction.

What Democrats need to do is not talk about kicking Trump off ballots, but about President Joe Biden’s great work to rescue the economy after the COVID pandemic, cancel billions of dollars in student debt, and revitalize our nation’s infrastructure.

Here’s What Right-Wing Power Brokers Want Trump to Do in His Second Term

Now that we know Trump will not be removed from the ballot, Democrats have to accept that a second Trump presidency is dangerously close to happening—and that the only way to prevent it is to make the argument to voters about the existential stakes this country faces in November.

We can’t allow the GOP to hijack the national conversation with nonsense about “witch hunts” against Trump. We need to let the justice system do its job in Trump’s many upcoming trials. And as Republicans in states across the country try to restrict IVF, limit voting rights, and ban books in schools, we must remind Americans of these GOP positions—because they’re unpopular with most voters.

The cavalry isn’t coming to save us from the scourge of another Trump presidency, only we can save our nation.

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