WASHINGTON — After supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, fearsome fences were erected to protect surrounding buildings.
One of the buildings in need of preservation was the magnificent marble structure across from the Capitol: the Supreme Court.
But during oral arguments In Colorado’s attempt to exclude Trump from the Republican primary on Thursday, the justices asked little about the central question in the case: Was Jan. 6 a riot?
Instead, the trial is likely Verdict in favor of Trump on other grounds, it allows judges to refrain from taking sides in such a controversial matter.
After two hours of oral argument, the majority found that states lacked the authority to apply the 14th Amendment’s 3rd Amendment to individuals who had previously held government office and were “engaged in rebellion.” federal office.
The justices raised questions about all the legal technicalities, including whether the president is covered by Section 3 and whether Congress must pass a law to enforce it. In addressing the question of rebellion, they also examined who could decide whether a rebellion had occurred and suggested that several states should not have this power.
The only justice to directly address the rebellion question was Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, a liberal appointed by President Joe Biden.
Jackson asked Trump’s lawyer, Jonathan Mitchell, whether his client would admit to participating in the rebellion.
Mitchell pushed back, saying, “President Trump has not taken any action that could be credibly characterized as sedition.”
He added that the rebellion “must be an organized, concerted effort to overthrow the government of the United States by violence.”
Jackson seemed incredulous in the narrow definition of the term.
“So your point is that a chaotic attempt to overthrow the government is not a rebellion?” he asked.
“It was a riot. It wasn’t a riot,” Mitchell replied.
The Colorado Supreme Court found that Trump was ineligible, ruling that Section 3 applied to the president and that Trump was engaged in sedition.
Earlier, a lower court judge ruled that there was rebellion, but concluded that section 3 was unenforceable.
It’s Trump’s tweets in a lower state court, videos of the events of January 6 and reported by the now-defunct House committee investigating the attack.
One recurring theme during Thursday’s Supreme Court arguments was unease on the bench that the justices would have to review a series of state court rulings barring not only Trump but future presidential candidates from running for president, as in Colorado. claims that they participated in the uprising.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett, one of three Trump appointees to the court, wondered how the judges should consider the evidence the Colorado courts cite to conclude that it was a rebellion.
He questioned whether the judges should have “watched the video of Ellipse” and made their findings, referring to a Jan. 6 speech in which Trump encouraged supporters to march on the Capitol.
Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative colleague, thought along similar lines.
“Should we have our own court?” – he asked.
Alito was among several justices who expressed concern that other states would reach different conclusions in Colorado courts, leading to a potentially chaotic election.
At times, it seemed like the only person in the courtroom willing to talk about how to define insurgency was attorney Jason Murray, who represents Colorado voters who say Trump is unfit.
“We are here because, for the first time since the War of 1812, our nation’s capital has come under fierce attack,” he said.
He added that the attack was “incited by the current president of the United States to disrupt the peaceful transfer of presidential power.”
As far as the Supreme Court is concerned, whether this is rebellion will remain an open question.