‘Bad sign’: Legal scholars question US Supreme Court’s Trump primary ruling

Former United States President Donald Trump hailed it as a victory. His critics blasted it as a blow against accountability.

But experts say the US Supreme Court’s decision to allow Trump to remain on the Colorado primary ballot was always the most likely outcome. The surprise, they argue, lies in the details.

On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down Colorado’s efforts to bar Trump from the state’s Republican presidential primary under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

That amendment contains a so-called “insurrection clause”: a section of the law that disqualifies candidates from public office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the US government.

Colorado’s state Supreme Court ruled in December that Trump had run afoul of the insurrection clause by egging on the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. But in a unanimous ruling, the US Supreme Court deemed the state could not remove Trump from its primary ballot.

Thomas Keck, a professor of political science at Syracuse University, told Al Jazeera that the Colorado case had long faced an uphill battle.

“It was definitely always a long shot and the ruling is not surprising,” Keck explained. But, he added, the US Supreme Court’s ruling opened up larger questions about what guardrails exist to protect US democracy.

“It has been three years [since January 6], and Trump has faced almost zero consequences. That is a bad sign for the health of the country’s democratic institutions,” Keck said.