This is Clown World Stuff
Nothing says "democracy" like throwing people off ballots for crimes they haven't been convicted of.
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Just when you think the anti-Trump hysteria couldn’t get any worse, something ridiculous happens that further drives home how utterly obsessed these people are with preventing Trump from becoming president again.
Trump Derangement Syndrome is real, folks, and the desperation is tangible. To recap, Trump has been indicted for defrauding himself in New York, violating the Espionage Act, violating the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and running a RICO organized crime syndicate. Now he’s being purged from primary ballots without due process after the Colorado Supreme Court — comprised of all Democrat appointees — ruled 4-31 that the former president engaged in an “insurrection” and that his speech on January 6, 2021, was not protected by the First Amendment.
In other words, a state court has found Trump guilty of a federal crime with which he’s never been charged based on informal allegations of unlawful conduct that took place some 2,000 miles from the court’s jurisdiction.
The ruling marks the first time that a court has kept a presidential candidate off the ballot under an 1868 provision of the Constitution (Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment). These four justices have gone way out on a limb, taking a Reconstruction-era prohibition on Confederate rebels holding office and using it to deny Colorado voters a choice of their preferred presidential candidate at the ballot box, effectively disenfranchising them.
Just a week ago, Michigan’s court of appeals ruled Trump could remain on the state’s 2024 GOP primary ballot and would not be disqualified from running in the state under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Last month, the Minnesota supreme court also ruled that Trump could stay on the state’s ballot, concluding, “There is no state statute that prohibits a major political party from placing on the presidential nomination primary ballot, or sending delegates to the national convention supporting, a candidate who is ineligible to hold office.”
And when this argument arose earlier in the year, Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal explaining why he doesn’t have the authority to disqualify Trump from the ballot. Recall that Raffensperger’s family received death threats because of the outcome of the 2020 election. He’s not exactly a Trump fan, supporter, or crony. But how he feels about the former president doesn’t matter; what matters is his obligation to follow the law, the Georgia state constitution, and the U.S. Constitution.
Because Trump is such a polarizing figure, the Left is likely to turn forthcoming public argument into another “What do you think of Trump?” debate instead of “What is the law, and does it apply to this situation or not?” while completely ignoring the fact that four Colorado Supreme Court justices have declared Trump guilty of a serious crime that no court has convicted him of yet. No court has even indicted him on the charge of insurrection,2 and as I noted at the beginning of this post, there’s been no shortage of indictments against Trump this year.
Notably, TDS-afflicted Special Counsel Jack Smith, who has been nothing but dogged in his pursuit of Trump in D.C. and Miami federal courts, hasn’t charged the former president with sedition or even incitement, let alone insurrection. This is because, at minimum, prosecutors don’t think they can convince a jury of this—and they clearly feel pretty good about their chances of convincing juries that Trump committed other crimes. Moreover, the Senate declined to convict Trump at the second impeachment trial, when the House impeachment article claimed that he had “incited an insurrection against the government of the United States.” The House obviously failed to sufficiently prove its case.3
If you’re going to keep someone off the ballot because he committed a crime, you better damn well have a conviction. But the Colorado Supreme Court doesn’t have that, so, as Joel Pollak notes, the justices turned to other sources, including familiar Democratic talking points. For example, they state in the 213-page ruling that Trump created a “general atmosphere of political violence,” citing flippant rhetoric from some of his speeches and even the false claim that Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during a debate.4 They also repeatedly cite the “Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol,” which was entirely one-sided and hand-picked by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who — for the first time in congressional history — rejected the minority nominees. The hearings were scripted and devoid of cross-examination, with witnesses interviewed behind closed doors, without an adversarial process. The committee then destroyed its evidence.
It was the district court that originally admitted evidence from the January 6 Committee, and the Colorado Supreme Court held that it did not err because there were two (rabidly anti-Trump) Republican members on the committee, and because “the investigative staff consisted of highly skilled lawyers,” as if that ensured the process was unbiased and the findings credible.5 The majority also seconded the arguments of the Democratic impeachment managers, arguing that Trump’s use of the phrase “fight like hell” in his speech on January 6 was an incitement to riot, even though he had also told the crowd to march “peacefully and patriotically,”6 and even though that point was refuted in the second impeachment trial, when Trump’s lawyers played a video montage of Democrats using “fight” rhetoric, showing that such words are all too common in the political sphere and refer to strong advocacy, not violence.
The decision, which is one of the most extra-constitutional acts by a high court in our nation’s history, is filled with partisan talking points and reads like it was written by the same lawyers that the January 6 Committee and the House impeachment managers employed. That is not a coincidence.
As Jim Geraghty wrote back in September, there is this belief on the Left that if you oppose Trump, then you must oppose him in every way possible. These are the people who contend that Trump is a threat to Democracy because of his disregard for historical norms, and they’re absolutely convinced that any tool at hand should be used to stop him, and that any option, no matter how legally or constitutionally dubious, must be utilized in the name of preserving the Constitution and the rule of law. They have no issue with the DOJ being weaponized to prevent Trump from becoming president again, and they’re celebrating the idea of state courts suddenly inventing fantastical new theories to unilaterally block candidates from attaining elected office.
But there appears to be a modest silver lining to this episode. Trump fans, Trump critics, and Trump adversaries alike have recoiled at the ruling. Washington Post’s Aaron Blake observes, “Republicans were also much quicker to attack the decision than Democrats were to hail it, suggesting there is unease on the left with this method of defeating Trump.” Even the Washington Post editorial board is against the ruling.
Clearly it’s not just members of the MAGA movement who feel that unelected functionaries and professional bureaucrats have dedicated themselves to robbing Republican voters of their agency by simply removing Trump from the political process. And rightly so, because by giving a handful of robes a veto over a political party’s candidate-selection prerogatives, another dangerous precedent is being established. Bending the law and loosening interpretations to try and bring Trump to “justice” is setting the stage for future tit-for-tat challenges that will prove far more damaging to the country than anything that Trump’s opponents think they’re preventing.
The bottom line is that you don’t get to kick a candidate off the ballot because you think he has committed a crime but can’t prove it. If that’s going to be the new standard going forward, we should expect Supreme Courts in red states to kick President Biden off the ballot for refusing to faithfully execute the laws of the United States and letting in 8,000,000 illegal aliens. If the Left wants to trample on the Constitution, democracy, and elections, they should be given a healthy dose of their own agenda.
As Washington Post columnist Jason Willick pointed out, “All Ivy League grads voted to disqualify. All Denver Law grads voted not to disqualify.” Writes Rep. Peter Meijer: “In a time when elite schools appear uniquely removed from reality, amid a political moment defined by elite failure, the irony is profound. Trump campaigns on ‘saving America’ from elites seeking to thwart the will of the people. Those elites, in turn, respond by confirming Trump’s worst allegations.”
The word “insurrection” was immediately seized upon by the media to “propagandistically inflame perceptions,” as Michael Tracey put it, of a several-hour pushing and shoving match in which the vast majority of participants engaged in no violence.
The efforts to disqualify Trump from state ballots really do represent “a do-over for a failed impeachment.”
Trump actually condemned white supremacist groups and was simply repeating the format of the question prompt from moderator Chris Wallace; he did not bring up the Proud Boys.
One dissenting judge noted that the January 6 Committee’s report “is not beyond reproach” and that Trump was denied due process.
Trump’s request for the crowd to “peacefully and patriotically make their voices heard” isn’t even mentioned until page 127 of the ruling.