Former President Donald Trump’s decision to run in 2024 has put the Supreme Court in a difficult position, as a case challenging Trump’s candidacy under the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause is heading to next week’s judicial conference. Legal analysts say it could put the high court in a tough spot to weigh in on electoral politics, a subject matter the Supreme Court has mostly stayed away from.
In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, long-shot GOP presidential candidate John Castro is arguing that Trump’s allegedly unconstitutional candidacy will cause him “a political competitive injury in the form a diminution of votes.” Under the 14th Amendment, individuals who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. are prohibited from holding public office. Castro claims that Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot falls under the clause. The Trump ballot case may be the Supreme Court’s toughest yet, as there is so little legal precedent on which to rely on, and most of it dates back to the Civil War.
If the Justices actually disqualify Trump from running for president, that decision may be met with massive protests and civil unrest. They will have to decide for the first time who has standing to bring a 14th Amendment, Section 3 challenge, and whether the provision has any teeth.
Bruce Peabody, a politics professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, told Newsweek that while the justices will have to address Trump’s candidacy under the statute at some point, this may not be the case where they will rule on the former president’s eligibility to run for the White House. If the Supreme Court did take up Castro’s case, their decision would be limited to whether or not Castro had standing—whether a plaintiff is the appropriate person to bring a legal challenge or someone who has suffered harm or injury in a real way—rather than Trump’s ability to run for office.