Former US President dispute over participation in US primary election: Trump appeals to the Supreme Court

In just a few days it will be the third anniversary of the unprecedented attack on the US Capitol. Can Donald Trump run for president again after the outbreak of violence? The question is now before the courts in the USA – Trump wants a decision from the top.

Former President Donald Trump has appealed to the US Supreme Court after being excluded from the Colorado state primary. This was announced by a lawyer for the far leading Republican presidential candidate on Wednesday. The move was expected after the Colorado Supreme Court barred Trump from the primary there on Dec. 19. An opinion from the Supreme Court in Washington was not initially available. On Tuesday it became known that Trump had appealed his exclusion from the primaries in Maine. The primaries for the November presidential election begin on January 15th.

Donald Trump is accused of storming the Capitol insurrection

In the USA, the primaries and the actual presidential election take place at the state level according to their respective laws and regulations. Therefore, they decide who is allowed to take part and how the voting takes place. In Colorado and Maine, Trump is accused of insurrection under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment in connection with his supporters’ storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. This means that Trump will no longer be allowed to hold US office. He denies the accusation. Trump and his allies speak of a conspiracy to prevent him from returning to the White House. His lawyers also argue that only Congress can apply Section 3 and that presidents are excluded from the rule anyway.

How the Supreme Court might decide is unclear. The court is dominated by a conservative majority; three of the nine justices were appointed by Trump. In particular, it is unclear whether they are even addressing the question of whether Trump is guilty of insurrection. For example, the court could only decide that Section 3 does not apply to the President. However, legal experts expect the court to take up the matter in order to avoid legal chaos in an election year. Excluding Trump from the election would be tantamount to a political earthquake.

Lawsuits against Trump in several US states

The background to the dispute is the unprecedented attack on the US parliament building almost exactly three years ago: Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. Congress met there to formally confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. Trump had previously incited his supporters during a speech with unsubstantiated claims that the election victory had been stolen from him through massive fraud. As a result of the riots, five people died. Trump faces charges of attempted election fraud for his actions surrounding the vote.

Based on these events, various plaintiffs in various US states have been trying for some time to have Trump’s name removed from ballot papers for the presidential primaries. Specifically, it is about the so-called ban on insurrection in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. It states that no one may hold a higher office in the state who has previously participated as a public official in an insurrection against the state. Although some examples of such higher offices are given in the passage, the office of president is not explicitly mentioned.

Lawsuits failed in Michigan and Minnesota

Anyone who wants to run as a presidential candidate for the Republicans or Democrats in the USA must first prevail in the party’s internal primaries. In states like Michigan and Minnesota, plaintiffs failed in their attempts to remove Trump from the primary race. Decisions are still pending in other states. However, decisions against Trump were made in Maine and Colorado.

Trump’s lawyers: Congress, not courts, is responsible

According to US media, Trump’s lawyers’ application to the Supreme Court now argues that the Colorado Supreme Court has exceeded its authority – the question of a president’s fitness is a matter for the US Congress and not for state courts. The constitutional amendment, according to which people who have incited an “insurrection” against the constitution are excluded from elections, is also not applicable in the case of Trump.

Trump’s lawyers had already filed a formal objection to the decision in Maine on Tuesday – but first before a court in the state.

The two decisions in Colorado and Maine had been suspended pending Trump’s appeal. The decisions initially have no consequences as long as the appeal procedure is ongoing and there is no final clarification.

Primaries begin on January 15th – Trump is ahead in the polls

Time is running out. The Republican primary begins on January 15th with the first vote in the state of Iowa. The Republican primaries in Colorado and Maine are scheduled for March 5th, the so-called Super Tuesday, when voting will take place in a number of US states. However, the ballot papers are printed some time in advance.

Trump wants to run for the Republicans again in the presidential election in November, and in polls he is so far ahead of the field of Republican candidates by a large margin. For the Democrats, Biden wants to run for a second term. He has no serious internal competition.

In addition to the legal dispute over his participation in the primaries, Trump also faces several major court proceedings in the coming months on various criminal charges – including the storming of the Capitol and his attempts to retroactively overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.