Former US president Donald Trump makes his way inside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse in New York on April 4, 2023. Trump made an unprecedented appearance before a New York judge on the day to answer criminal charges that threaten to throw the 2024 White House race into turmoil. Trump pleaded not guilty in the criminal court to 34 felony charges.Photo:IC
The Colorado Supreme Court's unprecedented ruling to declare former US president Donald Trump disqualified from holding the presidency reflects the chaotic judicial system of the US, as well as Democrats' determination to rule the GOP contender out. However, the ruling has limited impact on Trump's support rate, and may even be used as a boost for his election race, experts said on Wednesday.
The 4-3 ruling came after the court found that Trump allegedly engaged in insurrection with his actions leading up to the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The landmark decision marks the first time in history that the US Constitution's insurrection clause - Section 3 of the 14th Amendment - has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate, according to media reports.
Trump's attorneys promised to appeal immediately to the US Supreme Court, which has the final say about constitutional matters.
Trump's legal spokesperson Alina Habba said the ruling was "attacking the very heart of the nation's democracy," while GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson railed at it as "nothing but a thinly veiled partisan attack."
The ruling by the Colorado court based on the insurrection clause is "chaotic and troublesome," as cases involving the application of the US Constitution are normally under the jurisdiction of federal law and should be decided by federal courts, not state courts like the Colorado Supreme Court, Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Therefore, Trump could appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Colorado court does not have the authority to make such decisions, Lü noted.
What's more, even if the court has the right to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the clause itself is still vague about whether it applies to the presidency, the expert said.
The issue marks huge splits within the US judicial system, as some believe the presidency should undoubtedly be included in the broad term "officers of the US," while others disagree and say that the state court overstepped its authority, the New York Times reported on US local time Tuesday.
The case has grabbed significant attention in the US, as it sets the stage for the Supreme Court to examine whether Trump would be eligible to run for another term as president, observers said.
Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, holds a different view. "While a significant number of judges in the Supreme Court were nominated by Trump, these judges are loyal to the Constitution, not to Trump," Li said.
Li told the Global Times on Wednesday that a decisive voice will depend on whether the Supreme Court defines the US Capitol incident as an act of rebellion and whether the incident was influenced directly by Trump. However, if the court's rulings are ambiguous, it could mean that Trump can continue to run for office.
US media reports analyzed that Trump does not need Colorado to win next year's presidential election, but the danger lies in the fact that more courts and election officials will follow Colorado's lead and exclude Trump from must-win states.
Lü noted that this dramatic episode reflects the Democrats' determination to bring down Trump, whatever it takes.
While lawsuits challenging Trump's candidacy have been filed in more than 25 states ahead of the 2024 election, the latest national polls show Trump leading Biden as the latter's approval rating hit an all-time low, the British media Independent reported.
Commenting on whether the decision of the Colorado court has impacted Trump's support rate, experts believe the impact would be quite small, and may even give him an advantage.
"The matter has room for interpretation in both the legal and political fronts, and Trump is likely to interpret it from a political perspective. This may further reinforce the perception among his supporters that he [Trump] is a victim, creating a sense of sympathy that strengthens their support for him," Li noted.
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