Supreme Court hears historic case on removing Trump from ballot

By Dan Berman, Tori B. Powell and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 8:49 a.m. ET, February 9, 2024
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8:46 a.m. ET, February 8, 2024

Your guide to today's Supreme Court arguments — and who will be speaking before the justices 

From CNN's John Fritze and Joan Biskupic

The Supreme Court has set aside 80 minutes for arguments in today’s historic dispute over whether former President Donald Trump disqualified himself from the ballot for his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.  

In reality, the debate will carry on for much longer.  

In this screengrab from video, Jonathan Mitchell speaks during a panel on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's legacy in April 2016.
In this screengrab from video, Jonathan Mitchell speaks during a panel on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's legacy in April 2016. From C-SPAN

Trump’s attorney, Jonathan Mitchell, is expected to kick off the arguments a little after 10 a.m. ET with a brief opening statement and will then field a barrage of questions from the bench. Jason Murray, representing the Colorado voters who challenged Trump, will present next. Finally, Shannon Stevenson, Colorado’s top appellate attorney, will speak on behalf of Secretary of State Jena Griswold.  

Each attorney will first take questions from the justices in something of a free-for-all format. Then, Chief Justice John Roberts will permit each justice to ask a few questions in order of seniority.  

At the end of the arguments, Mitchell will return to the well of the courtroom for a short rebuttal.  

Arguing before the Supreme Court involves an enormous amount of preparation, from nailing the intricacies of an argument to anticipating hypothetical questions from justices.  

Mitchell arranged two moot courts to practice before the justices took their seats. Murray had planned four. Such sessions are designed to expose the weaknesses in a case, devise solutions and refine its strong points. The tougher the moot – the adage goes – the smoother the actual argument. 

Read more about how the arguments are expected to unfold.

8:43 a.m. ET, February 8, 2024

What to know about Norma Anderson — the Colorado Republican leading the 14th Amendment challenge against Trump

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Norma Anderson poses for a photo in Lakewood, Colorado, on January 29.
Norma Anderson poses for a photo in Lakewood, Colorado, on January 29. Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Norma Anderson, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit seeking to disqualify Donald Trump from office, is a lifelong Republican who has had a storied political career, including stints as the first-ever woman majority leader in both chambers of the Colorado legislature.

“I’m an old-fashioned Republican that believes in strong defense, supporting business, and helping those who don’t know how to help themselves, and less government, and a fair tax base,” Anderson said.

Here are some highlights of her career:

  • She spent 12 years in the statehouse, before having to leave due to term limits. While there, from 1997 to 1998, she was the majority leader of the lower chamber. After that, she won a seat in the state Senate, and spent seven years there. She similarly reached the post of majority leader in 2003.
  • Her record: While serving in the Colorado statehouse, Anderson helped enact legislation to improve child literacy and lower the cost of in-state colleges and established a home nursing program with funds from a landmark lawsuit against the large tobacco companies.

Battling Trump – especially in court – comes with acclaim in some circles, and vitriol in others. Anderson said she has received a lot of support from friends and family, except for one or two holdouts who are still die-hard Trump supporters. She said most of her friends weren’t surprised that she got involved in the case.

“I was born four months before FDR was elected,” Anderson said. “I’ve lived through a lot of presidents. Some I liked, some I didn’t. But not one of them caused an insurrection, until Donald Trump.”

Learn more about Anderson's life, work and stances here.

8:43 a.m. ET, February 8, 2024

Your questions about the Supreme Court and Trump's many legal cases, answered

Analysis from CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

There is a dizzying array of court cases related to former President Donald Trump. Only one is headed to the US Supreme Court this week. It is a Colorado case in which Trump was declared ineligible for the state’s 2024 ballot for violating the Civil War-era insurrection clause in the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

When we asked CNN readers for their questions about the Supreme Court case, it quickly became clear in the hundreds of responses that a lot of people are struggling to keep all of Trump’s legal issues separate.

For instance, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Thursday in the 14th Amendment case – the same week that an appeals court in Washington, DC, clarified that, no, Trump does not enjoy “absolute immunity” from criminal prosecution for his effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

For an excellent, shorter version of what might happen at the court this week, listen to this “One Thing” podcast with CNN’s Supreme Court expert Joan Biskupic.

In answering readers’ questions, we’ve tried to delineate between the multiple cases involving Trump. We’ve also edited the wording in some questions for grammar and style.

Read our answers' to readers' questions.

4:43 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024

US Capitol Police officers say Trump’s January 6 speech isn’t protected by the First Amendment 

From CNN's Devan Cole

Then-President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.
Then-President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

A group of current and former US Capitol Police officers who defended the iconic building on January 6, 2021, want the court to reject Trump's argument that his speech that day is protected by the First Amendment. 

“Mr. Trump’s explicit instructions to a vast crowd to assault the Capitol and disrupt the proceedings of Congress — is precisely the kind of speech that is excluded from the First Amendment’s protections,” the group of current and former officers argued in a friend-of-the-court brief. 

Trump’s attorneys say, among other things, that his speech that day is shielded by longstanding First Amendment precedents because he wasn’t trying to incite imminent violence. 

The group of five current and three former Capitol Police officers behind the brief brought a civil lawsuit against Trump and several of his allies in 2021. The officers were at the Capitol during the riot and, according to court documents, were violently attacked by members of the mob. 

“Mr. Trump’s audience did as it was told."

“Attackers breached the Capitol’s defenses, forced entry, and temporarily obstructed Congress’s electoral vote count, " the brief said. "In the process, the attackers violently assaulted (the officers who filed the brief) and other Capitol Police officers, striking them and spraying them with toxic chemicals.” 

4:32 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024

Retired conservative federal judge wants Trump disqualified from office  

From CNN's Devan Cole

J. Michael Luttig, former US Court of Appeals judge for the Fourth Circuit, testifies before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U. Capitol on June 16, 2022, in Washington, DC.
J. Michael Luttig, former US Court of Appeals judge for the Fourth Circuit, testifies before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U. Capitol on June 16, 2022, in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A former conservative federal appellate judge is among those asking the Supreme Court to keep Donald Trump off the ballot, arguing the ex-president’s effort to cling to power after his 2020 election loss was “broader” than South Carolina’s secession from the US that triggered the Civil War. 

“Mr. Trump tried to prevent the newly-elected President Biden from governing anywhere in the United States. The South Carolina secession prevented the newly-elected President Lincoln from governing only in that State,” J. Michael Luttig, a former judge on the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, told the justices in a friend-of-the-court brief.  

“Trump incited, and therefore engaged in, an armed insurrection against the Constitution’s express and foundational mandates that require the peaceful transfer of executive power to a newly-elected President,” the brief said.

“In doing so, Mr. Trump disqualified himself under Section 3 (of the Constitution).” 

Luttig has long been one of the most high-profile conservatives to argue that Trump engaged in an insurrection following his loss in 2020 and that he should as a result be barred from holding office. He played a critical role in the heated fight over the certification of the 2020 presidential election, providing in a series of tweets legal ammunition to help then-Vice President Mike Pence defy Trump’s attempt to overturn the election. 

Read more.

9:11 a.m. ET, February 8, 2024

Lead plaintiff in Trump ballot case is a Republican who would support Nikki Haley

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Norma Anderson already earned her spot in the Colorado history books before becoming the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit seeking to disqualify Donald Trump from office.  

The standoff with Trump is one final chapter in the 91-year-old’s storied political career, which includes stints as the first-ever woman majority leader in both chambers of the Colorado legislature.  

“If Nikki Haley makes the ballot, she has my vote," Anderson told CNN.

Anderson, who still identifies as a Republican, spent 12 years in the state house. While there, from 1997 to 1998, she was the majority leader of the lower chamber. After that, she won a seat in the state Senate, and spent seven years there. She similarly reached the post of Senate majority leader in 2003. She was the first woman to hold both senior positions.  

Read more about Anderson and how the case got to the Supreme Court.

4:08 p.m. ET, February 8, 2024

CNN Poll: Americans are skeptical of SCOTUS’ ability to rule on election cases

From Ariel Edwards-Levy, CNN Polling & Analytics editor

Most Americans have less than total confidence in the Supreme Court to handle any election-related legal cases, according to a recent CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

Just 11% say they have a great deal of trust in the Supreme Court to make the right decisions on any cases related to the 2024 election, with 31% expressing a moderate amount of trust, 35% just some, and 23% none at all.

Roughly half (52%) of Republicans express a great deal or moderate amount of trust, with 17% saying they don’t trust the Supreme Court at all on the issues. Doubts are higher among Democrats: just 36% have at least a moderate amount of trust in the court to handle election-related cases, with 27% saying they have no trust at all. 

Timing is key as well.

About half of all Americans, 48%, say they think it’s essential that a verdict is reached before this year’s election on the federal charges Trump faces related to election subversion in 2020 before this year’s presidential election.

Read more about CNN's poll.

8:46 a.m. ET, February 8, 2024

SCOTUS will review a historic Colorado ruling today on whether Trump can be barred from holding office

From CNN's Devan Cole

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments today in its review of the Colorado Supreme Court's historic and unprecedented decision to remove former President Donald Trump from that state's ballot.

Trump remains on the primary ballot as the lower-court ruling disqualifying him has been put on hold pending Supreme Court action. If the justices do conclude Trump is ineligible for public office, then any votes cast for him wouldn’t count.

The high court’s decision to hear the case puts the nine justices squarely in the middle of the 2024 election as voting starts in the early primary contests and represents the court’s most significant involvement in a presidential race since its highly consequential decision 23 years ago in Bush v. Gore.

The state court’s ruling all but ensured that the justices would have to take up the politically fraught case and resolve the controversial question of whether Trump can be removed from the ballot. Though the Colorado ruling applies only to that state, courts in several other states have also reviewed challenges to Trump’s eligibility, though no such case has made it as far as the one in Colorado.

Last year, Maine’s secretary of state removed Trump from that state’s 2024 primary ballot, and the former president’s team appealed that decision in state court. The Oregon Supreme Court could also soon rule on a bid to remove Trump from that state’s primary and general election ballots because of his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection, underscoring an urgent need for the justices in Washington to act quickly in the Colorado case.

Trump’s campaign said it welcomes a “fair hearing” at the Supreme Court over the Colorado ballot challenge.

Read more about the case.