On Monday, the Supreme Court made a decision that could have implications on the future of American politics. The court declined to hear a case brought against former President Donald Trump, which sought to prevent him from running in the 2024 election under the 14th Amendment. This amendment, originally passed after the Civil War, was intended to prevent Confederate leaders from attaining elected office. The case, brought by little-known Republican candidate John Anthony Castro, argued that Trump’s involvement in the January 6th Capitol riot should disqualify him from holding any elected position in the future.
The 14th Amendment states that “no person shall…hold any office…who, having previously taken an oath…to support the Constitution of the United States shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion…or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” Castro claimed that Trump’s actions on January 6th constituted giving aid or comfort to insurrectionists, and therefore, he should be disqualified from holding office. However, the court denied the bid without providing any comment or recorded vote.
This case brought attention to a lesser-known provision of the 14th Amendment, which was specifically designed to prevent pro-insurrectionists from holding elected office. Castro argued that Trump’s actions on January 6th, when he spoke at a rally before the Capitol riot, showed that he was in violation of this provision and should be disqualified. He stated that the framers of this amendment “specifically designed it to remove overwhelming popular pro-insurrectionists from the ballot” and that Trump was “the precise type of person they sought to disqualify.”
Castro’s case first began in a lower court, where it was dismissed on the basis that he had no legal right or standing to bring such a case. He then brought it to Washington, DC, where the Supreme Court was tasked with considering its merit. However, despite the attention and controversy surrounding Trump’s involvement in the Capitol riot, the court chose not to intervene and let the lower court’s decision stand.
While this case may have been unsuccessful, Castro is not alone in challenging Trump’s potential candidacy in the future. There are currently two other cases, in Minnesota and Colorado, that also use the 14th Amendment to argue against Trump’s eligibility for office. These cases may have a stronger chance of success, as they focus on Trump’s actions after January 6th, including his continued claims of election fraud and support for those involved in the riot.
The decision by the Supreme Court to not hear this case may be seen as a blow to those hoping to prevent Trump from running for office again. However, it also highlights the potential challenges of using the 14th Amendment in such cases, as it requires a specific set of criteria to be met. Only time will tell if these other cases will have a different outcome and what impact they may have on Trump’s political ambitions.