Read the Supreme Court Decision in the Trump Colorado Ballot Case - The World News

Read the Supreme Court Decision in the Trump Colorado Ballot Case

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Cite as: 601 U. S.

Per Curiam



a wide array of offices-rather than by granting rights to all. It is therefore necessary, as Chief Justice Chase concluded and the Colorado Supreme Court itself recognized, to “ascertain[] what particular individuals are embraced”” by the provision. App. to Pet. for Cert. 53a (quoting Griffin’s Case, 11 F. Cas. 7, 26 (No. 5,815) (CC Va. 1869) (Chase, Circuit Justice)). Chase went on to explain that “[t]o accomplish this ascertainment and ensure effective results, proceedings, evidence, decisions, and enforcements of decisions, more or less formal, are indispensable.” Id., at 26. For its part, the Colorado Supreme Court also concluded that there must be some kind of “determination” that Section 3 applies to a particular person “before the disqualification holds meaning.” App. to Pet. for Cert. 53a.

The Constitution empowers Congress to prescribe how those determinations should be made. The relevant provision is Section 5, which enables Congress, subject of course to judicial review, to pass “appropriate legislation” to “enforce” the Fourteenth Amendment. See City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U. S. 507, 536 (1997). Or as Senator Howard put it at the time the Amendment was framed, Section 5 “casts upon Congress the responsibility of seeing to it, for the future, that all the sections of the amendment are carried out in good faith.” Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., at 2768.

Congress’s Section 5 power is critical when it comes to Section 3. Indeed, during a debate on enforcement legislation less than a year after ratification, Sen. Trumbull noted that “notwithstanding [Section 3] … hundreds of men [were] holding office” in violation of its terms. Cong. Globe, 41st Cong., 1st Sess., at 626. The Constitution, Trumbull noted, “provide[d] no means for enforcing” the disqualification, necessitating a “bill to give effect to the fundamental law embraced in the Constitution.” Ibid. The enforcement mechanism Trumbull championed was later enacted as part of the Enforcement Act of 1870, “pursuant to the power

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