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John Roberts is afraid of judging in Trump’s ballot case

The chief justice worried about the consequences of Democratic candidates being kicked off the ballot if Trump is disqualified. That shouldn’t matter.


Is John Roberts afraid of judging? 

Admittedly, it’s an odd thing to wonder about the chief justice of the United States. But during Thursday’s oral arguments in Trump v. Anderson, it took center stage.

Roberts asked Jason Murray, the lawyer for the Colorado voters challenging Donald Trump’s ballot eligibility, about the consequences of upholding the former president’s disqualification in that state, saying:

In very quick order, I would expect ... that a goodly number of states will say, ‘Whoever the Democratic candidate is, you’re off the ballot,’ and others, for the Republican candidate, ‘You’re off the ballot,’ and it will come down to just a handful of states that are going to decide the presidential election. That’s a pretty daunting consequence.

Well, what of it? Whether Trump is disqualified under the 14th Amendment or not, if there are oath-breaking insurrectionist Democrats running for office, then they, too, should be challenged and adjudicated accordingly. It’s as simple as that and should have no bearing on the high court’s forthcoming ruling. 

To be sure, Roberts wasn’t the only justice Thursday who expressed concerns about consequences. If their questions overall are any indication, then the high court may well be on its way to reversing the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling against Trump. It may do so on the grounds that the states don’t have the authority to disqualify federal candidates. But if the U.S. justices’ decision is motivated by a supposed fear of the consequences of what the Constitution demands, then that itself is something to fear.

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