Supreme Court Seems Likely to Reject Challenge to Trump’s Eligibility

The Supreme Court seemed poised on Thursday to issue a lopsided decision rejecting a challenge to former President Donald J. Trump’s eligibility to hold office again.

Justices across the ideological spectrum expressed skepticism about several aspects of a ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court that Mr. Trump’s conduct in trying to subvert the 2020 race made him ineligible to hold office under a constitutional provision that bars people who have sworn to support the Constitution and then engaged in insurrection.

Not since Bush v. Gore, the 2000 decision that handed the presidency to George W. Bush, has the Supreme Court assumed such a direct role in a presidential contest. This time, though, it seemed the justices were not prepared to determine the outcome of the election.

The ruling is likely to resolve not only whether Mr. Trump may appear on the Colorado primary ballot but also whether he is eligible to run in the general election. Indeed, the decision in the Colorado case will almost certainly apply to any other state where Mr. Trump’s eligibility to run has been challenged, including Maine, where the state’s top elections official ruled he should be excluded from the ballot.

There was very little discussion of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol or of Mr. Trump’s role in it. But a majority of the justices indicated that they were prepared to rule that individual states may not disqualify candidates in a national election unless Congress first enacts legislation allowing them to do so.

Some justices also seemed open to two other arguments: that the post-Civil War prohibition at issue, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, bars candidates from holding office, as opposed to running for it, and that the president is not among the officials to whom the provision applies.

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