Mar 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Some Democrats exhale as Trump is restored to Colorado ballot

Former President Trump, wearing a blue suit jacket, white shirt and red tie, standing against a green and blue wall covered in shadows.

Former President Trump. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Democratic lawmakers are publicly and privately hailing the Supreme Court's ruling restoring former President Trump to the ballot in Colorado.

Why it matters: While on its face the ruling seems like a loss for Democrats, some in the party are breathing a sigh of relief that a potential political liability has been defused.

  • "I think we are better off having [Trump] on all ballots and then let the people vote as they may," said one House Democrat, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
  • "May the best man win."

What's happening: The Supreme Court unanimously ruled the Colorado Supreme Court could not bar the former president from the state's primary ballot under the 14th Amendment.

  • The case hinged on language in Section 3 of the amendment barring anyone who has "engaged in insurrection" from holding federal office.
  • "The Constitution makes Congress, rather than the States, responsible for enforcing Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates," the justices wrote.

What they're saying: Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), who previously criticized a Maine official's decision to bar Trump from the state's ballot, said in a statement that the Supreme Court "got it right" on Monday.

  • Golden noted he voted to impeach Trump for Jan. 6, but said the impeachment vote alone is "not enough to preclude him from the ballot."
  • "We are a nation of laws and a democracy. Today’s unanimous Supreme Court decision affirms that Maine voters should — and will — decide if Donald Trump ought to be president again."

Between the lines: Some Democrats believe Trump's removal from the ballot would have done little to actually keep him from the White House — and might have handed him a potent issue with which to fire up the base.

  • "No one really thought these 14th Amendment suits were strategic," said a second House Democrat who spoke anonymously.

The other side: A handful of Democrats — Trump's most fervent critics in Congress — pushed back on the ruling.

  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, said he plans to introduce legislation in response.
  • Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) posted to social media the text of the 14th Amendment, saying that while it "may be inconvenient and unpleasant to execute ... the text is clear[.]"

Zoom in: Some Democrats who weighed in didn't address the ruling directly, pivoting instead to the Supreme Court's consideration of Trump's immunity claim in his federal criminal prosecution.

  • "Now that we know they can expedite cases of a political nature, maybe they'll move up the oral arguments on the non-issue, dilatory immunity motion by Trump," Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) told Axios.
  • Others used it to propel the political case against Trump. "Voters need to make their voices heard at the ballot box," Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-N.C.) told Axios in a statement.
  • "Donald Trump tried to overthrow the government and Americans deserve a chance to firmly reject the former president and his dangerous ideology once and for all."

Go deeper: Reality bites Democrats: Courts won't save them from Trump

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