A skeptical U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday in a momentous case that is expected to determine whether Donald Trump can continue his run for president.
At issue is a provision of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution that bars insurrectionists from office. Six Republican and independent voters from Colorado sued to block Trump from the ballot in that state, arguing he had engaged in insurrection before and during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Colorado’s high court in December agreed with them and found he was ineligible to run in the state’s primary.
The state court allowed Trump to appear on the primary ballot as he appealed the case to the Supreme Court. The justices heard arguments Thursday and are expected to issue a decision that will determine for all states whether the leading candidate for the Republican nomination can seek to return to the White House.
Here are four key takeaways from the arguments.
1. The justices appear inclined to let Trump run
From the moment the Colorado voters filed their lawsuit, legal observers said they would have a tough time before a court that has a 6-3 conservative majority and includes three members who were nominated by Trump. Thursday’s arguments strengthened the predictions that Trump would win the case and be allowed to run in Colorado and elsewhere.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. raised concerns about the difficulty of determining whether specific individuals committed insurrection, asking who was responsible for making that judgment. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh asked whether it was anti-democratic to prevent people from voting for a major candidate and whether excluding Trump would effectively disenfranchise his voters. And Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said allowing individual states to decide the issue could result in a patchwork of rulings, with each one following different evidentiary standards and reaching different conclusions about whether candidates are allowed to run.