SCOTUS could decide Trump’s fate as it could influence swing state voters

(Seated from left) Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito and Elena Kagan. Standing from left are Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

TN Ashok (IANS)–

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) could seal the fate of former President Donald Trump if his staying on the ballot is decided by more Democrat-controlled states following Colorado and Maine as he would ultimately need to carry the eight swing states plus the electoral college votes.

The 2024 Presidential race is likely to come down to a handful of key swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin plus single electoral college votes in Maine and Nebraska based on presidential preferences in individual house districts, says David Mark, a reputed political journalist, author and public speaker.

Mark is the author of “Going Dirty: The Art of Negative Campaigning” and co-author of “Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs, and Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon Slang and Bluster of American Political Speech”.

“If state election officials block former President Trump from their ballots — after first being given a green light by the Supreme Court — it could become practically mathematically impossible for him to win,” Mark wrote for CNN analyzing the Trump campaign for the White House in the context of his eligibility to stay on the ballot.

Based on recent elections, voter registration trends and other factors, it’s reasonable to assume that the 2024 winner will be decided by the voters entirely and not by the courts.

With exactly 11 months to go for the November Presidential elections, much could change in the political scenario to influence the voters. In a potential rematch between President Joe Biden and his vanquished 2020 Republican foe, Trump, the remaining 40 states and District of Columbia can reasonably be expected to fall into red or blue camps.

A wild card is whether Trump will be ruled ineligible for the 2024 ballot. If the courts allow it, the swing states could gain even more influence over who wins the presidency in 2024, since there are a total of 68 electoral votes in those swing states where Secretaries of State are elected Democrats or were appointed by a Democratic Governor and may be in a position to decide if Trump’s name is kept off ballots, Mark said.

Out of 538 electoral votes, candidates require 270 votes to win the presidency.

Maine state’s historic decision to follow Colorado to kick Trump off the ballot has assumed so much national importance that it could have a bearing on other states controlled by the Blue states that it would be well-nigh impossible for the US Supreme Court to make a decision on keeping Trump on the ballots without weighing in the state courts’ decisions.

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, the top election official, and a Democrat elected to her post by the state legislature, cited Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021, over his role trying to block Congressional certification of Biden’s 2020 win — including the attack on the Capitol that day by the then-President’s supporters as a major reason for “insurrection” to keep him off the state’s ballot.

Colorado and Maine aren’t the only states to have considered measures to remove Trump from 2024 ballots. Michigan and Minnesota denied proposals to do so. And while there wasn’t a formal court challenge in California, the state’s top election official also recently decided to keep Trump on the list of certified candidates for the state’s GOP primary, despite political pressure to remove him.

Trump has also survived ballot access challenges in Arizona and New Hampshire, while the outcome of one in Oregon is pending.

This proliferation of legal actions, and the fact that two states have denied Trump ballot access, makes it likely the US Supreme Court will take up the issue.

Justices would do so with the goal of setting some sort of uniform standards states must follow in considering efforts to keep Trump off of upcoming ballots — including whether that should be allowed at all, Mark wrote.

It seems highly unlikely the Supreme Court would actually rule that Trump be removed from individual state ballots. The 6-3 Conservative majority includes three justices appointed by Trump. More broadly, justices in recent years have been reluctant to jump into election rules disputes, saying that belongs in the realm of elected officials.

If the Supreme Court keeps Trump on the ballot or not, or declines to take up the case, saying it lies in the realm of state election officials, the states gain an outsized importance on the issue, reports said.

Colorado, for instance, is virtually certain to give its electoral votes to the Democratic nominee. In 2020, Biden beat Trump in Colorado 55.4 per cent to 41.9 per cent. Trump getting knocked off the Colorado ballot wouldn’t matter in terms of practical politics.

But that’s not the case at all in states with top elections officials who are Democratic-aligned. Elected Democratic Secretaries of State include Adrian Fontes of Arizona (11 electoral votes), Jocelyn Benson in Michigan (15 electoral votes), Cisco Aguilar of Nevada (six electoral votes), and Elaine Marshall of North Carolina (16 electoral votes).

In Pennsylvania (19 electoral votes), Al Schmidt was appointed by Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro and confirmed by the state Senate (Schmidt is a Republican former Philadelphia City Commissioner, who Trump targeted for criticism in the aftermath of his 2020 election loss.)

The Maine electoral vote has a single vote that leans on Trump, in the second Congressional district — he won it in 2016 and 2020 — and the total is 68. That’s because Maine, unlike all other states except Nebraska, awards two electoral votes based on the statewide popular vote and one vote for each Congressional district. That comes out to four electoral votes in Maine and five in Nebraska, Mark added.

Of course, some swing state electoral vote’s fall where the top elections official is Republican, for a total of 21 electoral votes. Including Georgia (16 electoral votes), with GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Nebraska, where Democrats have a decent chance at winning one electoral vote, from the Cornhusker State’s second Congressional district, as happened in 2008 and 2020.

In New Hampshire (four electoral votes), which Biden won easily in 2020, the Secretary of State is appointed by the Republican-majority legislature.

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