Why the Supreme Court case to remove Trump ballots was worthwhile

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Last Thursday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Trump vs. Anderson-A case questioning whether the state of Colorado can remove former President Donald Trump from the ballot as a result of its determination that he participated in the January 6, 2021, insurrection that sought to prevent the 2020 election from being certified. Was demanding. Those oral arguments revealed much of the justices’ stated commitments to the primacy of originality and also revealed a new obsession with results. Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, joins Dahlia Lithwick in this week’s Amicus to discuss why his organization pursued what many considered a long-delayed case And what it looked like when the court appeared ready to reject it. For practical reasons as opposed to constitutional reasons. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Dahlia Lithwick: I just wanted to take a moment to talk to you about how the first question in oral debate comes from Clarence Thomas, whose wife was at the rally that day and was sending messages to Mark Meadows and state representatives. Was trying to bring. To change the list of voters. That’s been your job throughout the Trump era – this kind of ethics question. It seems as if, hovering over this conversation about what the court will do and should do as the court is being asked to let Colorado remove Trump from the ballot, is a side conversation that will somehow lead to a hearing on this case. The Center is not talking about Justice Thomas. And that’s an extra conversation because there’s nothing to be done about it.

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Noah Bookbinder: The Crew has been very clear in the past about our views about reconsideration and the ethics of the Supreme Court. I think right now we’re looking at it as a plaintiff, and we’re hoping that all the judges who are considering this case are looking at it fairly and with an open mind. And we believe they will.

However, the last thing I would say is that this question – and the answer I am giving, frankly – is an example of leaving the onus on litigants to challenge judges for potentially controversial matters. The system makes no sense. Of course this won’t work. And it makes no sense to leave it to judges to decide. You should have some kind of external organization that can evaluate these types of questions. Do you know people who are not interested in a particular matter? Do people believe that this will actually make the lives of judges easier? They are in the impossible position of assessing their own impartiality. It makes no sense, leaving it up to the person whose case is to be decided by the judge, raising the issue of whether that judge is the right person to make the decision, and it would be better if a different decision were taken. System.

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I want to ask you whether this lawsuit – which I think we can agree was rigorous by anyone’s standards and I don’t think the crew initially saw it as their mission – I Wondering whether, after the arguments, it seems like it was worth it, even if it can’t or won’t establish the former president as a heretic, or actually enforce the drafters of 14 couldth The apparent goal of the amendment is to prevent those who took oath and then attacked the country from not getting a second chance to do so? You said it very clearly: “We did it because we had to. It had to be done.” I’d like to give you a chance to end where you started, which is by answering: What did this trial mark and what did it accomplish, not only for you as the crew, In fact, for the country, in a way, it is even more important whether the result is 7-2 or 6-3.

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We’re still very hopeful that the justices will go back and read those briefs and consider that argument and ultimately do what we believe the Constitution requires. I know most analysts haven’t come to this conclusion, but 100 percent that’s where we are.

Secondly, I don’t hesitate for a moment that everything that went into it was worth it. And there are many reasons for this. For one thing, no matter what happens, the issue of Donald Trump retaining power after losing the election and inciting violent mobs to do so will continue, which is contrary to the principles of democracy. Let this be put before the American people as a central thing that they need to think about in relation to Donald Trump and in relation to American democracy.

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Everyone’s tendency is to look away and pretend it didn’t happen, and one of the functions of this case is that it makes it impossible to look away and pretend it didn’t happen. That, in itself, is incredibly powerful. I also think that it brings this provision of the Constitution back, and whether it’s used in this case, whether it’s prosecuted, whether legislation is made about it, it’s bringing life back to this part of the Constitution. Which was placed there specifically to protect democracy.

This functioning in many ways protects it from becoming inactive, regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision. I don’t think they’re going to fix it in such a way that it ends up being an active part of American law. And the final thing, I would say, is that the threat to American democracy is existential. And I don’t think anyone will look back and regret the actions they took in trying to save democracy. People can look back and regret things they didn’t do.

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