Ari Armstrong's Web Log (Main) | Archives | Terms of Use

Self in Society Roundup 43

Trump and the ballot, Trumpist fascism, RSS, growth, gun magazines, free speech and Satan, anti-Semitism, and more.

Copyright © 2023 by Ari Armstrong
December 22, 2023

Trump and the Ballot Case

NPR published the entire Colorado Supreme Court ruling barring Trump from the ballot (pending appeal).

The decision was 4–3, notes the New York Times. The "seven justices . . . were all appointed by Democratic governors. . . . Still, the chief justice, Brian Boatright, is a Republican, while three justices are Democrats and three are listed in voter registration records as 'unaffiliated' with a party. . . . The governor must choose from a pool of nominees recommended by a bipartisan commission. . . . Still, most are chosen by the governor." What matters is the logic of the decision. However, that the justices are all Democratic appointees gives Trump a talking point.

The AP has a short video interview with plaintiff Norma Anderson, a former Republican legislator, and her Colorado attorney Mario Nicolais, also a former Republican.

Jason Van Tatenhove interviewed Nikhel Sus of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), which played a role in the legal suit.

Congressman Ken Buck said (CPR), "This is the wrong decision. Voters deserve to decide who they do or don’t support." Jacob T. Levy quips, "Trump is disqualified from the ballot for insurrection. 'That's terrible, we should let the voters decide.'" The point: Trump was not content to let the voters decide in 2020, as he and (some of) his supporters tried to have the election results overturned—which is precisely why Trump properly is barred. The Republican quotes collected by CPR do not actually contain any arguments against the court's ruling.

Jesse Paul: "The Colorado GOP is threatening to try to withdraw from Colorado’s Republican presidential primary in March—or ignore the results."

Rick Hasen writes (via Eugene Volokh):

The Colorado opinion is a serious and careful opinion that reaches a reasonable conclusion that Trump is disqualified. Nonetheless the opinion reaches many novel legal issues that the U.S. Supreme Court could decide the other way should that court reach the merits. (The three dissenters on the Colorado court did not really reach the merits.) Trump would need to prevail on only one of these legal issues to win on any appeal, so in some ways the legal odds are with him. . . .

It is far from clear that the U.S. Supreme Court will reach the merits—there are many legal doctrines like ripeness and mootness that would give the Court a way to avoid deciding the issues in the case. But it is imperative for the political stability of the U.S. to get a definitive judicial resolution of these questions as soon as possible.

Ilya Somin writes:

Section 3 states that "No person" can hold any state or federal office if they had previously been "a member of Congress, or… an officer of the United States" or a state official, and then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof." The Colorado court ruled that Trump "engaged in insurrection" because of his role in instigating the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol, and is therefore disqualified. . . .

The per curiam majority opinion does an excellent job of handling all the major issues at stake: whether the January 6 attack was an insurrection, whether Trump's role in it was extensive enough to qualify as engagement, whether the president is an "officer of the United States," and whether Section 3 is "self-executing" (that is, whether state governments and courts can enforce it in the absence of specialized congressional legislation). . . . The 4–3 vote is not as close as it looks. Two of the three dissenting justices did so on the ground that Colorado state election law doesn't give the state courts the authority to decide Section 3 issues. They did not endorse any of the federal constitutional arguments on Trump's side. . . .

January 6 qualifies as an "insurrection" even under a fairly narrow definition of the term that is limited to the use of force to take over the powers of government. . . . As I see it, the hardest issue raised in the case is whether Trump's involvement in the insurrection was extensive enough to count as "engaging" in it. . . . Even if [Trump's action] somehow still falls short of "engagement," this and Trump's other actions surely at least gave "aid and comfort to the enemies" of the United States. . . .

The court also gave a thorough and compelling explanation for its rejection of the argument that the president is not an "officer of the United States" covered by Section 3.

See also Somin's follow-up on the scope of Section 3.

Although Anastasia P. Boden thinks "that it would be better for Trump to lose outright than to lose by being kicked off the ballot by a court," she writes for the Cato Institute:

Whether one thinks the Colorado Supreme Court was right or wrong, its lengthy opinion is a triumph of judicial engagement. There’s no doubt it’s a good faith attempt to grapple with a vague constitutional provision. It’s transparent, it’s thorough (213 pages, including the three dissents), it engages with the arguments (all of them, even those that were arguably waived), and it declines to take any of the several available escape hatches that would have allowed the court to shy away from deciding the merits.

Mark Graber has a rich analysis of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Quentin Young argues that the Fourteenth Amendment is not an affront to the democratic process but a manifestation of it.

The Trumpist Path to Fascism

Trump said immigrants are "poisoning the blood of our country."

Trump also said, "We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections." In Trump Land, Joe Biden is a "communist."

Regarding the talk of fascists, those who talk about immigrants "poisoning the blood," who refer to their opponents as "vermin," and who continue to conspiracy monger about the elections and other matters should look in the mirror.

In related news . . . A woman with an American flag on her shirt, except with a Christian cross in the blue field, said at a Trump rally about Trump: "He's a Godly man. He's working for God. He really cares about us—cares what happens to us. He didn't come in there because he wanted money. He is actually working for God and wants to help us . . . and God is on his side." Trump's supporters are pining for an authoritarian leader.

Quick Takes

Really Simple Sindication: Aaron Ross Powell suggested somewhere that people start using RSS feeds more. I took that advice. Now I'm using Feedly (desktop browser and iphone app) to track stories and articles from a wide variety of sources. You can also save specific articles to a "board." For me, Feedly has basically taken the place of Twitter (to which I no longer post) and most of my email alerts. Many pages (including mine) has a "feed.xml" file that serves as the RSS feed. You just plug the feed link into Feedly and then that source's posts appear. Since I'm hand-coding my site again, I had to figure out how to code the RSS page too. That was a challenge but I got it working okay.

Sign of the Times: Recently I saw a car on the road with a "Don't Tread On Me" flag right above a "Ban Porn Now" sticker (along with various other stickers).

Pro-Growth: I quite liked Matthew Yglesias's pro-growth comments: "We can have more immigrant doctors and lower health care costs. And we can have more zoning reform, plus more immigrant construction workers, and more abundant housing. We can have more immigrant child care workers and make raising families more affordable."

Gun Magazine Bans: Dave Kopel writes, "Law enforcement officers carry standard capacity magazines—up to about 20 rounds for handguns, and 30 rounds for rifles—for the same reason that law—abiding citizens often should: they are best for lawful defense of self and others." There's an ongoing case regarding Colorado's magazine restrictions.

Free Speech: David French continues to impress: "On Dec. 14, a Christian veteran named Michael Cassidy walked into the Iowa State Capitol and destroyed a display erected by the Satanic Temple of Iowa. . . . My right to speak does not include a right to destroy another person's speech. There is little doubt that the Satanic Temple's display is constitutionally protected. . . . But the right-wing response to the Baphomet vandalism was notable, and a further sign of the right’s decaying commitment to freedom of expression."

Anti-Semitism: Ilya Somin: "A recent Harvard/Harris question indicating that 67% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 believe Jews 'as a class' are 'oppressors' has attracted widespread attention as an indicator of widespread anti-Semitism. There is indeed reason to be concerned about anti-Semitism. . . . But we should not give much weight to this survey question. It's badly worded and at odds with other data." One problem: "The question doesn't include any intermediate or 'don't know' option." Further, in a Pew poll last year, Jews had relatively high favorable ratings. No doubt the war with Hamas has affected perception. I am not too comforted.

Ari Armstrong's Web Log (Main) | Archives | Terms of Use