We begin today with Ann E. Marimow of The Washington Post and her primer on Trump v. Anderson, the Colorado Supreme Court case involving Number 45’s disqualification from the Colorado presidential ballot, which will have oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court later this morning.
The justices will decide whether Colorado’s top court was correct to apply a post-Civil War provision of the Constitution to order Trump off the ballot after concluding his actions around the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol amounted to insurrection. Primary voting is already underway in some states. Colorado’s ballots for the March 5 primary were printed last week and include Trump’s name. But his status as a candidate will depend on what the Supreme Court decides.Unlike Bush v. Gore in 2000, when the court’s decision handed the election to George W. Bush, the case challenging Trump’s qualifications for a second term comes at a time when a large swath of the country views the Supreme Court through a partisan lens and a significant percentage still believes false claims that the last presidential election was rigged. [...]
But election law experts have implored the justices to definitively decide the key question of whether Trump is disqualified under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, settling the issue nationwide so that other states with similar challenges to Trump’s candidacy follow along.
They warn of political instability not seen since the Civil War if the court was to overturn Colorado’s ruling but leave open the possibility that Congress could try to disqualify Trump later in the process, including after the general election.
Oral arguments for Trump v. Anderson begin at 10 AM ET and can be followed through a number of available audio feeds.
Donald K. Sherman writes for Slate that Trump v. Anderson is, in many ways, this generation’s Brown v. Board of Education.
Now the Supreme Court is facing another inflection point to consider democratic protections. On Thursday, the justices will hear arguments in Trump v. Anderson, to consider whether to uphold Donald Trump’s disqualification from office given the Colorado Supreme Court’s finding that he engaged in an insurrection by inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. As the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which famously litigated Brown, argued in a friend of the court brief filed in Anderson, the “Reconstruction Amendments were enacted to ensure that the worst abuses in our nation’s history are not repeated and to achieve the fullest ideals of our democracy. But those Amendments are effective only when those responsible for applying them have the courage to do so.”
Of course, millions of Americans would be disappointed or even infuriated if Trump is removed from the ballot. Some may even turn to violence. But that threat is obvious given the former president’s incitement of violence after his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election. Trump’s supporters continue to threaten violence in his name, and without condemnation by the candidate. In his briefs before the Supreme Court, Trump has threatened “bedlam” if he is kept off the ballot, but the bedlam he provoked on Jan. 6 is how we got here—and why he is disqualified by the Constitution from serving as president again. [...]
If the Supreme Court allowed concerns about civil unrest or violence to deter enforcement of the Constitution, especially the 14th Amendment, then Black Americans and millions of others would never have secured the rights enshrined after the Civil War. Brown provoked immediate backlash from many white Americans, including violence, riots, and the founding of segregation academies throughout the South—with effects still seen today. Because the court did not cower in the face of this resistance, our country continued forward on the path toward a more just and democratic society.
The amicus curiae brief filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund for Trump v. Anderson (linked in the excerpt) is a great read and a short read.
For example, the footnote at the bottom of page 7 reminds us that part of the insurrection scheme was designed “to undermine the voting rights and full citizenship of Black voters in violation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and other federal laws.”
Kevin Lind of Columbia Journalism Review interviews Slate’s senior editor Dahila Lithwick about Trump v. Anderson and, more generally, about how the media covers the courts.
[LIND]: You gave a talk at Columbia Journalism School’s graduation last year (I was among the graduating class) and discussed how reporters from other beats broke major stories about the Supreme Court—particularly around undisclosed gifts from wealthy interests to justices—as opposed to court reporters doing it. What led to that happening, and what can journalists learn from that experience?
[LITHWICK]: I think that the Supreme Court press corps had a narrow aperture for what its responsibility was. There was a sense that its job was to cover the cases—What’s happened in oral argument; here’s what the decision held. We had this pristine beat, covering the law itself. The justices who produced it are nameless, faceless actors in a sausage-making factory, and we just write about the sausage. It became clear that there wasn’t a beat that was asking, Who are these justices, how do they get on the court, how do they decide cases? and Who’s paying for what, why is it never disclosed, and why are we constantly told that probing these things is somehow destabilizing to the rule of law? We were so busy guarding the henhouse that it took us years to realize nobody was covering the foxes.
We’ve really seen a change both in investigative journalists being sicced on the court and the raft of important stories that have subsequently come out. Stuff is starting to happen, but the critique was another version of what I said before, which is that we’re so busy covering this structure, we forgot to cover all of the systems and subterranean money. We failed to cover it, or we covered it incidentally. It is incredibly boring to write about how a handful of dark-money groups essentially captured the Supreme Court. But the fact that the press didn’t think that was a front-page story day after day, as it happened, for decades? That’s on us.
David A. Graham of The Atlantic looks at the week of Congressional Republicans in disarray (and the week isn’t even finished!).
Underlying the drama was a banal truth: Speaker Mike Johnson doesn’t have a grip on his caucus. Maybe no one could manage such a thin majority, but his task will be even harder after yesterday’s failure. (Johnson vowed to try again on the Mayorkas impeachment. We’ll see.) The inexperienced Johnson is speaker thanks to Trump, who cheered on conservative rebels against former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and refused to save him. Johnson’s rise was due in part to his starring role in attempts to overturn the 2020 election. (An irony: If McCarthy hadn’t resigned after his ouster, Republicans might have had the votes yesterday.)
Things are barely going better for the Senate Republican caucus. Over recent months, that group hatched what seemed like a clever plan to entrap Democrats. Rather than pass a bill with aid to Ukraine and Israel, which the White House as well as many GOP members wanted, it would tie those issues to tighter security at the southern border. That would force Democrats to support policies that the GOP wanted, or else to vote against them and face political blowback on immigration, Trump’s favorite campaign issue. [...]
“I feel like the guy standing in the middle of a field in a thunderstorm holding up a metal stick,” Lankford lamented last week, before lightning struck. “The reason we’ve been talking about the border is because they wanted to, the persistent critics,” McConnell told Politico. “You can’t pass a bill without dealing with a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate.”
McConnell is right, but no one in his caucus wants to hear it. As for Lankford, his mistake was believing his colleagues when they said they wanted a bill that would tighten the border, and then trying to write one. But the Trump wing of the Republican Party isn’t interested in policy—it’s interested in sending signals. The MAGA crowd would rather impeach Mayorkas, even if they know he won’t be convicted and it won’t change anything, than enact a law that actually affects the border. The point is expression, not legislation.
Bill McKibben of the Guardian has nothing but good things to say about the Biden Administration’s decision to say no to big oil in one respect.
Ten days ago Joe Biden did something remarkable, and almost without precedent – he actually said no to big oil.
His administration halted the granting of new permits for building liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals, something Washington had been handing out like M&Ms on Halloween for nearly a decade. It’s a provisional “no” – Department of Energy experts will spend the coming months figuring out a new formula for granting the licenses that takes the latest science and economics into account – but you can tell what a big deal it is because of the howls of rage coming from the petroleum industry and its gaggle of politicians.And you can tell something else too: just how threadbare their arguments have become over time. Biden has called their bluff, and it’s beautiful to watch.
Charles Blow of The New York Times reminds us of a previous schism between Jewish Americans and African Americans over the Six-Day War of 1967 and says that It still has lessons to offer us today.
Despite the fact that Jewish American sentiments don’t necessarily align with sentiments in Israel, the world’s lone Jewish state, or with the policies of Israel’s government, there are parallels between the perceived split years ago and the current cleavage: Many Black Americans, especially younger, politically engaged Black Americans, oppose Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza, with particular concern about the death toll among Palestinian civilians.
Many Jewish Americans support Israel’s right to conduct the war and American support for Israel’s war effort in order to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas — and some feel disappointed or even betrayed that many Black people seem to have more sympathy for the Palestinian perspective than the Israeli perspective.
The issues involved feel irreconcilable, because many of those engaged in the debate believe that their positions represent the moral high ground. And nuanced views are sometimes characterized as weak. But there has to be room for nuance.
David Gilbert of WIRED has exclusive reporting about a Russian disinformation campaign involving the border “crisis.”
The disinformation campaign began in earnest in late January, and expanded after Russian politicians spoke out when the US Supreme Court lifted an order by a lower court and sided with President Joe Biden’s administration to rule that US Border Patrol officers were allowed to take down razor-wire fencing erected by the Texas National Guard. Days later, when Texas governor Greg Abbott refused to stand down, former Russian president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is currently deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, claimed that the Texas border dispute is “another vivid example of the US hegemony getting weaker.” [...]
After these comments, state media, influencers, and bloggers quickly got involved. Over the past two weeks, state-run media outlets like Sputnik and RT have called the dispute between the Texas governor and the Biden administration a “constitutional crisis” and an “unmitigated disaster,” while one Sputnik correspondent posed a video on the outlet’s X account, stating: “There’s a big convoy of truck drivers going down there. So, it can very easily get out of hand. It can genuinely lead to an actual civil war, where the US Army is fighting against US citizens.”On Telegram, there were clear signs of a coordinated effort to boost conversations around the Texas crisis, according to analysis shared exclusively with WIRED by Logically, a company using artificial intelligence to track disinformation campaigns.
Finally today, Alex Burness of Bolts writes about a new initiative by a Montgomery County, PA county commissioner to create mobile units designed to go into neighborhoods to help voters “cure” their ballots.
Having won his election last November, [Neil] Makhija is now in a position to secure voting rights from the inside. County commissions in most of Pennsylvania double as boards of elections, with broad discretion over election procedures, handing Makhija power to help shape how voting is conducted in the third most populous county of this pivotal swing state. And he’s intent on getting creative.
Makhija tells Bolts he intends to propose that Montgomery County set up a mobile unit that’d go into neighborhoods to help people resolve mistakes they’ve made on their mail ballots.
He likens his proposal, which election experts say does not currently exist anywhere in Pennsylvania, to an ice cream truck for voting.
“Imagine if voting was as efficient and accessible as getting an Amazon delivery or calling an Uber,” Makhija told Bolts. “Exercising fundamental rights shouldn’t be more burdensome.”
Try to have the best possible day everyone!