Roving Periscope: Uncertainty grips the US over its next President in 2024
New Delhi: Who will be elected the next US President in November 2024?
Nobody knows. Both the principal contenders are facing multiple controversies and health issues while the minor ones are what they are: minors learning to swim in tricky political splash pools.
The Democrat incumbent, Joe Biden, is 81 and ailing. That did not prevent him from throwing his hat in the ring. But he is facing an impeachment inquiry by the House of Representatives over his son’s alleged shady business deals. His principal Republican rival, Donald Trump, 77, who faced two impeachments while in office and was until now threatening to grab a second term in 2024, has suddenly become potentially ineligible to contest because of a court, for the first time, pronouncing him a misfit to hold the high office.
The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday said Trump is ineligible to serve as the US President and barred him from the state’s primary ballot. It, however, stayed the decision to allow the former President to appeal which his poll campaigners said he would do until January 4, the deadline.
With this unprecedented ruling that now heads to the US Supreme Court, Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021, when his supporters stormed the US Capitol, have come back to haunt him.
The Colorado court ruled that Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results render him ineligible to run again under a post-Civil War-era provision of the US Constitution that bans insurrectionists from holding public office.
“President Trump’s direct and express efforts, over several months, exhorting his supporters to march to the Capitol to prevent what he falsely characterized as an alleged fraud on the people of this country were indisputably overt and voluntary,” according to the 4-3 ruling from the court. All seven justices were appointed by Democratic governors, the media reported.
“Moreover, the evidence amply showed that President Trump undertook all these actions to aid and further a common unlawful purpose that he conceived and set in motion: prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election and stop the peaceful transfer of power,” the court said.
Irrepressible, however, Trump is ready to appeal and plans to seek a stay preventing the ruling from taking effect, according to a statement from his campaign. The pause could extend past January 4, depending on when the Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case. The court directed Colorado’s Secretary of State to keep Trump’s name on the presidential primary ballot until the matter is decided by the US Supreme Court.
“Democrat Party leaders are in a state of paranoia over the growing, dominant lead Trump has amassed in the polls,” according to his campaign statement. “They have lost faith in the failed Biden presidency and are now doing everything they can to stop the American voters from throwing them out of office next November.”
The Colorado ruling came when Trump held a commanding lead in the Republican primary, setting the stage for a 2020 rematch against Biden, who casts Trump as an existential threat to the Democratic system. Until recently, Trump led Biden by 5 percentage points among registered voters in a head-to-head match-up across seven swing states.
The majority opinion from the Colorado court said they “do not reach these conclusions lightly. We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us.” “We are also cognizant that we travel in uncharted territory,” the majority wrote.
Chief Justice Brian Boatright said in a dissenting opinion that the ruling was premature because Trump hasn’t been criminally convicted and more time was needed to consider the complexities of the case.
Voters represented by the advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, which brought the case, argued Trump should be barred from the ballot for inciting the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
“Our Constitution clearly states that those who violate their oath by attacking our democracy are barred from serving in government,” Noah Bookbinder, president of CREW, said in a statement.
Trump has faced dozens of lawsuits across the country this year, which claimed he’s ineligible for another term in the White House under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The provision states that a person who took an oath to support the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” is ineligible to hold office again. Other cases were brought in Michigan, Minnesota, and Oregon, among other states.
Although Republicans have been successful in Colorado, its governors and both US senators are Democrats, as is a majority of its House delegation. Biden won the state and its nine electoral votes in 2020, and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee in 2016, was victorious in 2016.
Trump, who is facing four criminal indictments, has used legal actions against him to rally political support, framing the charges as a plot by the political establishment to keep him out of power. The Colorado ruling, coming just one month before the Iowa caucuses, could further galvanize Republicans around him.
It could also pressure the US Supreme Court to act quickly on the insurrection issue.