In a pivotal moment for American democracy, the Supreme Court is poised to hear arguments this Thursday regarding the eligibility of former President Donald Trump to be on the ballot, amidst debates over the 14th Amendment's interpretation.
Legal experts assert that the Amendment's language clearly mandates Trump's removal from the ballot due to his involvement in insurrection or rebellion, having previously sworn an oath of office. Ian Millhiser of Vox highlights the weakness in arguments favoring Trump's candidacy.
Contrary to this legal clarity, some express concerns about potential backlash from Trump's supporters. A Politico roundup echoes fears of violent reactions, ranging from mass far-right protests to threats of a 'national divorce.'
However, these fears don't align with the majority expert opinion, which downplays the likelihood of a violent MAGA uprising if the Supreme Court rules against Trump. Moreover, they argue that the imperative to uphold constitutional and democratic principles outweighs the threat of violence.
This judicial decision holds more than just immediate consequences; it is crucial for mitigating future MAGA-related violence. With Election Day approaching, removing Trump from the ballot could significantly dampen the possibility of organized and violent responses from his base.
Trump, lacking a standing army or presidential authority, may resort to instigating violence earlier than in the past.
Curbing Election Unrest
Senator J.D. Vance's recent statements on ABC News, suggesting that election outcomes should be contested by Congress rather than accepted as the voters' will, reflect a worrying trend.
Such rhetoric lays the groundwork for potential unrest and insurrection, reminiscent of the January 6 events. Experts, including Rachel Kleinfeld of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, suggest that removing Trump from the ballot would likely reduce the potential for violence.
While some incidents might occur, they would be less coordinated and easier for law enforcement to manage compared to a central attack like January 6. Interestingly, the recent D.C. appeals court ruling, which denied Trump immunity from prosecution for his role in January 6, elicited a surprisingly muted response from the MAGA base.
This lack of reaction underscores the diminished potential for organized violence, especially at a time distant from the election. Detractors might view the argument for Trump's removal as partisan, but it transcends simple political calculus.
Removing Trump could indeed open the door for more electable Republican candidates, potentially challenging President Biden's re-election prospects. For the GOP, Trump's removal might be a blessing in disguise, freeing them from the constant threat of his vindictive politics and allowing the party to focus on more conventional, albeit conservative, political agendas.
In this critical juncture, the Supreme Court's decision could shape not just the immediate political landscape but the long-term stability and integrity of American democracy.