Friday, February 09, 2024
On February 8, 2024, the Supreme Court met to address Colorado’s ruling that Donald Trump should be excluded from its ballots for fomenting an insurrection. When they had adjourned many pundits opined that the justices, including those in the liberal minority, were disinclined to let Colorado’s ruling stand. Allowing Colorado to exclude trump from the ballot would be an injustice to American voters as a whole and could set a precedent allowing other states to take retaliatory action against candidates they didn’t like.
The Supreme Court has a good point here, but is it the correct point for them to put forward? None of them even glanced at the elephant in the chamber. That elephant is the allegation that Trump instigated an insurrection, rather than a mere riot, or a rowdy picnic. I believe that what occurred on January 6, 2021 was an insurrection, though one that was ill-conceived, poorly planned, and doomed from the start. It would have had a better chance of success if the Capital had not been breached.
Not everyone thinks this way. Various polls found that between 44 and 50 percent of respondents believe that the events of January 6 did not constitute an insurrection. Other polls indicate that between 30 and 40 percent of respondents believe that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
Given the large number of Americans who deny that an insurrection occurred the Supreme Court avoided controversy by side-stepping the issue. Acknowledging an insurrection attempt would have lessened public doubt. But sidestepping the issue does nothing to address the greatest current threat to our system. That threat is an absence of publicly accepted facts. This threat is only being addressed through libel suits against public figures and media providers. These are helpful, but it would be more helpful if an authority like the Supreme Court were to say: “This is true. That is false.” This can’t happen with a Supreme Court that’s falling into the same partisan vortex that’s swallowing our democracy.
Trump didn’t need his rowdy picnic (or insurrection) because he’d already lined up nearly 150 Republicans willing to delay certification of the election results – eight from the Senate and 139 from the House of Representatives – even though over five dozen election fraud lawsuits had been dismissed prior to January 6. If the Supreme Court were to agree that Trump had violated the 14th Amendment by attempting an insurrection it would be admitting that at least some of the 147 Republicans eager to deny Bidden his win might be in violation of the Constitution as well. The Court can’t do this if it wants to maintain a semblance of normalcy. Sadly, a semblance is not sufficient to keep the country running well. It’s time to address a polarized and dysfunctional political system. Colorado made a good start by bringing the issue to the table. Expecting a partisan congress to enforce the 14th Amendment is a non-starter.