Rule of Law

RELEASE: Supreme Court Decision in Trump Ballot Eligibility Case Was Dangerously Untethered from Constitutional Text and History

WASHINGTON, DC – Following today’s decision at the Supreme Court in Trump v. Anderson, a case in which the Court was considering whether Donald Trump should be prohibited from appearing as a candidate on the ballot due to his disqualification from office under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, Constitutional Accountability Center Vice President Praveen Fernandes issued the following reaction:

Today’s decision is both disappointing and wrong.

Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution to ensure that officeholders who engaged in insurrection against our country could not again hold office. The Supreme Court should have examined the text and history of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment and, consistent with that text and history, affirmed the Colorado Supreme Court holdings that Section Three applies to Donald Trump, that Trump engaged in insurrection through his actions relating to January 6th, and that Trump cannot appear on the ballot.

Instead, the Court’s conservative majority invented a requirement of congressional action to enforce Section Three against federal officeholders and candidates, a requirement that exists nowhere in the Constitution’s text. In fact, as Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson point out in their concurrence, “the text cuts the opposite way.” As they explain, “[i]t is hard to understand why the Constitution would require a congressional supermajority to remove a disqualification if a simple majority could nullify Section 3’s operation by repealing or declining to pass implementing legislation.” Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson continue by rightly pointing out that “nothing else in the rest of the Fourteenth Amendment supports the majority’s view.”

Given that many justices have assured us, through their writings and confirmation hearings, that the text and history of constitutional provisions are the guiding forces in their adjudication, today’s opinion is difficult to understand.  Easier to understand is why public confidence levels in the Supreme Court are at historic lows.

It is now up to the American public to decide what to do with factual findings—left entirely intact by today’s decision—that through his actions relating to January 6th, Donald Trump engaged in insurrection against the Constitution.



Case page in Trump v. Anderson

Smita Ghosh, There’s a Huge Originalist Hole in Trump’s Argument for Staying on the Ballot, Slate, Feb. 6, 2024:

Praveen Fernandes & Jess Zalph, Colorado’s Trump Disqualification Case Will Test the Supreme Court, Newsweek, Dec. 20, 2023,

Praveen Fernandes, Enforcing the Insurrection Clause Against Trump Strengthens Our Democracy, Newsweek, Dec. 13, 2023,


Constitutional Accountability Center is a nonpartisan think tank and public interest law firm dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text, history, and values. Visit CAC’s website at