Trump Stays

Published at 07:26 on 8 February 2024

After thinking about it a bit more, that is my conclusion.

First, it was inevitable that the Supreme Court would take this case, and expedite it. Not taking it would result in fifty different states with fifty different processes for disqualifying Trump. Some states would end up striking him from the ballot, some would not. Yes, there would be partisan bias at play here, but the important thing is a leading candidate that does not appear on all ballots.

Second, it would then build. Right-leaning states would retaliate by cooking up some justification for striking Biden from the ballot while leaving Trump on it. Now we have a situation where both leading candidates do not appear on all ballots.

The Court remaining silent would, in other words, be a recipe for nationwide chaos due to a profound constitutional crisis. So the Court has to rule.

Now the question is how the Court will rule. And here we get to a simple issue of expediency: it will be easier for the Court to compel all states to leave Trump on the ballot than it will for it to compel them to all strike him from the ballot. Moreover, by setting the bar really high, such a ruling will nip such chaos in the bud generally.

This is likely to result in standards that make it effectively impossible to bar an insurrectionist president from the ballot. This will of course continue the slow rot in the Republic that has turned the presidency into in an increasingly imperial position. That rot, however, is something that has been ongoing for decades, and liberals as well as conservatives have been willing co-participants in it. It is also something to easily remain in denial of due to an attitude of American exceptionalism (“that sort of thing can never happen here”). Again, both liberals and conservatives harbour this attitude, which is widespread to the point of ubiquity in the USA.

So the decision will not only come out in favour of Trump, but it will be possible for such a decision to be easily rationalized by the Court’s more liberal justices. As such, it would not surprise me in the least to see more than six votes in favour of Trump, and even a 9–0 decision is within the realm of plausibility. In fact, I would have to say that the odds favour at least one liberal pro-Trump vote, because this will be perceived as increasing the Court’s legitimacy. Chief Justice Roberts is likely to push hard for a ruling that will attract at least one liberal vote.

Note that this does not mean that all justices would issue the same decision. It is entirely possible for there to be multiple explanations issued for a pro-Trump vote, with the moderates and liberals signing onto one and the conservatives onto another.

The main point is that a decision in favour of Trump is way more likely than one against him.

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