The Professors

Crazy hair portrait of a man wearing glasses

The supreme court will hear arguments this week that former president Trump is prohibited from running for office because he violated section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and supported an insurrection on Jan. 6.

In light of the up-coming supreme court case that started in Colorado, it’s worth noting that the professors of law that we are supposed to look up to as role models seem to have all been in the same classroom when they were told that they needed to relay the message of “there will be violence” if former president Trump is prevented from running for president again.

Much to the same drumbeat that the major media outlets seem to pound into the general public on a daily basis, they seem to forget that 90% of the Trump supporters are to busy working long hours to have time to gas up the family tank, pull old missiles out of the backyard shed, load up the family station wagon with 18 trillion rounds of ammunition to head off to the local protest.

They also seem to forget about the mass riots – mostly peaceful according to CCN – that were all instigated by the democrats where entire cities were burned to the ground, destroying thousands of businesses, vandalizing hundreds of federal building and just about anything else you can think of.

Without further ado, we present what some of these professors think – or want you to think – is going to happen if the supreme court issues its judgement against Trump.

* Senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Over the last year, Trump has been unable to muster large violent crowds despite his setbacks in multiple court cases. His tweets can catalyze his followers to threaten particular targets — such as judges, prosecutors, witnesses and the FBI. While a Supreme Court decision would likely garner multiple armed protests at state capitols and individual acts of violence in states like Colorado, a major violent event like Jan. 6 is much less likely. But that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods.

* Law professor at the University of California, Davis: On the risk side, the most pressing concern is how Trump’s most ardent supporters would react. We know all too well from Jan. 6 that some of his supporters were willing to engage in armed violence on his behalf — and so the concern is that a disqualification ruling would precipitate more of the same. But there is also a longer-term legal concern: Once Section 3 is used to disqualify a major candidate from the ballot, the temptation for state election officials and state courts to use it in the future for partisan purposes will be immense, even in circumstances that seemingly fall far short of an insurrection. For instance, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has already floated the idea of arguing that President Joe Biden should be disqualified based on his immigration policies. Even if many people believe that does not constitute a Section 3 insurrection, there is great risk that some judges will disagree, leading to great uncertainty and additional Supreme Court intervention in future election contests.

* Professor of law and political science at UCLA: My greatest concern of a ruling disqualifying is not therefore about a hit to the court’s legitimacy, but the potential for violence. The idea that the Supreme Court would remove from the ballot a candidate, who has millions of strong followers, in the midst of an election runs the risk of social unrest during a period of intense political polarization. That’s not a reason for the court to avoid doing what’s right. But it is a reason to be prepared for anything, especially given Trump’s track record in encouraging violence when he doesn’t get his way, which is what got us to this point in the first place.

* Teaches law at the University of Chicago: Finally, what of rank-and-file Trump voters? Are they going to peaceably accept that result, or see it as another manifestation of the “deep state?” I suspect that a Supreme Court ruling disqualifying him from office would elevate the violent rhetoric and acts of some.

* Assistant professor of public policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia: Political scientists have found that there are a surprising number of Americans who say they condone political violence when asked on public opinion surveys. That evidence, coupled with the events of Jan. 6, suggest there’s certainly potential for unrest if Trump is disqualified from running for a second term. At the same time, the prosecution of many of Trump’s most devoted and violent supporters following the Jan. 6 insurrection may deter any widespread or organized violent responses.

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* Longtime Republican adviser and a senior CNN political commentator: I also assume that several Republican-run states would simply ignore the Supreme Court and put Trump on the ballot anyway (even if the RNC nominated someone else). Why not? Just last week Joe Biden tweeted the following statement: “ The Supreme Court blocked me, but it didn’t stop me.” If Biden can operate in defiance of Supreme Court orders, why should Republicans play by different rules? Come to think of it, I doubt the RNC would nominate someone different as they would simply ignore the Supreme Court and demand that states place him on the ballot anyway.

I doubt that Nikki Haley or any anti-Trump candidate could even get the nomination in these circumstances. Mechanically I suspect the party could move to install a Trump proxy for the nomination, which at this point is decidedly not Haley. Could be Donald Trump Jr., for all I know, to keep the Trump name on the ballot (if they don’t follow through on my earlier idea). But the idea that the reaction to Trump getting booted would be the RNC installing functionally a never Trump alternative is lunacy, in my opinion.

In states where he was not on the ballot, there would be massive write in campaigns to elect him president. States would have to decide after the election whether to count those votes or not. I suspect you’d have a huge breakdown on state election boards across the country, where some would argue you can’t count his votes (whether he was on a ballot or simply written in). Post election litigation would ensue, and I suspect state legislatures would get involved and, depending on their partisan lean, could send up Electors who didn’t match electoral outcomes.

Basically, it would be like the end of the original Ghostbusters movie except in every state capital and in every county clerk’s office in the country.

* Senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies: That could only happen if the Supreme Court fails to properly apply the text and legislative history of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and ignores prior precedents. But in the very unlikely event that the court held that the Colorado State Supreme Court had the authority to find a candidate guilty of insurrection and remove him from the ballot, it would open up a legal quagmire that would lead to electoral chaos, political mayhem and the disenfranchisement of millions of voters who would have their right to choose a candidate taken away from them.

Electoral chaos would result from the risk of totally conflicting opinions and outcomes in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with a presidential candidate such as Trump who meets the qualifications to be president in Article II on the ballot in some states but not others. This could lead to political mayhem and partisan manipulation of the election process, particularly since a lone election official — such as the secretary of state of Maine, who was an elector for Joe Biden in 2020 — could use that power to disqualify candidates of the opposition party, making the U.S. look like a third-world country.

It would set the stage for unprecedented violations of basic due process, given that it would allow state officials to in essence “convict” a candidate of serious crimes in a truncated civil proceeding, even if that individual has never been indicted, much less convicted, for those crimes via a criminal trial in which he would have to be found guilty under the higher standard of proof and would be afforded many substantive due process rights. That could include, for example, a president running for reelection being disqualified as a candidate because a state election official “convicts” him of committing treason for intentionally refusing to enforce federal immigration law and deliberately opening up the border to allow millions of undocumented immigrants, drug smugglers, human traffickers, criminals and terrorists to flood into the country.