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Supreme Court Rules 9-0 Stages Can't Remove Trump From Ballot; Supreme Court Rejects 14th Amendment Push, Keeps Trump On Ballot; Soon: Trump To Speak On 14th Amendment Decision. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired March 04, 2024 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Welcome to Inside Politics. I'm Dana Bash. And we'll start with a monumental Supreme Court decision. The highest court in the land will do unanimous that Donald Trump cannot be remove from any states ballot because of his actions on January 6. The former president is calling the decision of quote, big win for America. He's expected to speak any moment now from Mar-a-Lago.

In the meantime, let's go straight to the Supreme Court outside that building is where our Paula Reid is. So, Paula, give our viewers a sense of what this decision does and what it does not do? And we're talking about just hours before voters in key states go to the polls.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. Here this is the biggest election related decision from the court and nearly a quarter century. And it comes just hours before Super Tuesday. And here a unanimous court ruling that the state of Colorado cannot remove former President Trump from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the so-called insurrectionist ban.

The court writing quote, because the constitution makes Congress rather than the states responsible for enforcing Section 3 against federal office holders and candidates we reverse. We conclude that states may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office. But states have no power under the constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the presidency.

And Dana, they talked about their concern that if individual states were each able to make different decisions, that it would create what they described as a patchwork across the country that they equate with Congress. And they said, look, that's not what the constitution intended here.

Now, even though this was a unanimous decision. Four justices also wrote concurrences, saying that they disagreed with the idea that the only way to enforce this part of the constitution was through a statute enacted by Congress. The three liberal justices are writing that there are other ways that you have foreclosed on by writing this decision.

And notably, Justice Barrett wrote her own concurrence. She said, look, I don't want to sign on to the exact language that these liberal justices are using. She also said, quote, in my judgment, this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency. The court has settled a politically charged issue in the volatile season of a presidential election. Particularly in this circumstance, writings in the court should turn the national temperature down, not up.

Now, of course, she's speaking to the fact that this is a case about Trump. Political tensions running high right now. It comes to the court at a moment, Dana, when they are under a lot of scrutiny for ethics, questions about partisanship and it is notable that here this is a unanimous decision. It is also of course, a win for the former president, but this quote -- this idea that they should turn the temperature down and not up.

They always deal of course, with politically charged issues. This is a quote that could come back to haunt her. And in just a month and a half, they will all be back together to heal all arguments on another Trump related case on immunity. So, this is the first of at least two major Trump related cases that the court will hear this year.

BASH: Yeah. I thought that Amy Coney Barrett, sort of one -- not even a full page of what she said was really, really fascinating and good point about what it could mean for the future. Paula, thank you so much for that.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is live from West Palm Beach with reaction from Donald Trump's camp on this major ruling. We saw what he said on social media. We're expecting to hear from him momentarily. In the meantime, what are you hearing from your sources?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Dana. I expect the former president to do a victory lap. That's really what we've seen already today, posted on Truth Social that this was a big win for America. He actually just moments ago went on a radio show. When he said that he was honoured by the nine to nothing vote. And that the next thing of equal importance was that immunity ruling. It would be done hearing the arguments there.

But the important thing to really note here is that Donald Trump's team feels very good about this, not just because of the fact that they won in this argument that he will remain on the ballot. This was something that they had long expected.

Donald Trump himself watched those oral arguments commented to a number of people that he thought that his lawyers did a very good job. And they believed that of all the legal challenges that Trump is facing, that this is really the one that they were the strongest -- had the strongest legal argument for. So, they were anticipating a win here.

But overall, they are feeling very good about his legal standing, particularly given that the Supreme Court also decided that they were going to hear those immunity claims something that would likely delay those trials, possibly past the election.

BASH: All right, Kristen, thank you so much. And we are waiting for the former president to speak at any moment in Florida. In the meantime, I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who served on the January 6 Select Committee. He's a former professor of constitutional law among many other things.

Congressman, thank you so much for joining me. I want to start by making sure our viewers know that you were one of the early voices pushing the notion that the 14th Amendment could keep Donald Trump off the ballot. And I want them and you to listen to something that you told me in August.



REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We've been saying all along that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment presents a clear and unequivocal statement that anyone who has sworn an oath of office, and by the way, not just the president, but members of Congress and others who hold federal office, who engage in insurrection or rebellion, having sworn an oath to uphold the constitution against enemies, foreign and domestic can never serve again in federal or state office. Donald Trump is disqualified.


BASH: So, Congressman, now that you've read this Supreme Court decision, which effectively says that they don't agree with that argument. What's your response?

RASKIN: Well, the court didn't exactly disagree with it. They just said that they're not the ones to figure it out. It's not going to be a matter for judicial resolution under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, but it's up to Congress to enforce it.

You know, I disagree with that interpretation, just because the other parts of the 14th Amendment are self-executing. People can go to court and say that something violates equal protection, even if there's not a federal statute that allows them to do that. But in any event, the Supreme Court punted and said, it's up to Congress to act.

And so, I am working with a number of my colleagues, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Eric Swalwell to revive legislation that we had to set up a process by which we could determine that someone who committed Insurrection is disqualified by Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

And the House of Representatives already impeached Donald Trump for participating in insurrection by inciting it. So, the House has already pronounced upon that. And there was also a 57 to 43 vote in the Senate. The question is whether Speaker Mike Johnson would allow us to bring this to the floor of the House.

BASH: A big question. I'm going to get to what Congress can -- maybe from your perspective, there's a shoot and then there's a can, which I'm going to get to in one second, but just looking again at this decision today, on page 12 of the decision. The justices said that the patchwork that would likely result from state enforcement would sever the direct link that the framers found so critical between the national government and the people of the United States as a whole. What do you think about that?

RASKIN: Well, that's just -- well, I think that's just a reflection of the existing electoral system patchwork that we've got. There are some presidential candidates who've been able to get on the ballot in some states and not other states. In some states, it's very difficult for an Independent or a Green Party or Libertarian to get on the ballot and other states, it's much easier to get on. So that patchwork already exists. That's just a reflection of existing electoral federalism.

But obviously, the Supreme Court did not want to step up to the plate and deal with the clear textualist meaning of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, much less did they want to deal with the original purposes of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was to keep off of -- keep out of federal office, people who've already proven themselves, disloyal and untrustworthy.

BASH: Right. Which was your whole argument from the beginning. As that is what the 14th Amendment from your reading does. You mentioned Congress -- the Supreme Court, of course, mentioned Congress. And you're right that they said, this is not up to us. We've seen the Supreme Court do that. And on other really big fundamental issues in recent years, even with a slightly different makeup of the court voting rights, for example, even Obamacare way back when.

And what we've seen, particularly on voting rights, and now, I would guess, with this issue is, it's really hard for this Congress to do anything. That's relatively easy. When you look at the support for any given issue. Never mind something that's really hard. And I would call -- I would put this question in the really hard category. I mean, do you really think it's realistic that Congress will be able to deal with something like this right now?

RASKIN: Well, first, let me go to your original point about the Supreme Court, kicking everything to Congress. I think it only does that when it doesn't like the ultimate and inescapable implications of just enforcing the Constitution, as written. That's what's happening in this case.

But when you take like the Voting Rights Act, for example, in Shelby County versus Holder, the Supreme Court decided to take up the Voting Rights Act and then cut the hard out of it and dismantling the preclearance mechanism which is in there.

So, I think that this court just didn't want to go anywhere near it and is saying Congress has to deal with it. Knowing that the Congress is split because there's a very narrow Republican majority in the House and a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate. So, you know, we're going to fight for it, but it looks like this is a constitutional norm that the people of the United States are going to have to enforce at the ballot.


BASH: Is that your way of saying you don't think Congress? I mean, the real reality is despite you pushing legislation once again, you just don't see it happening.

RASKIN: Well, the vote to impeach Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection against the Constitution was 232 to 197. And we were joined by 10 Republicans at the time, including famously, of course, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Most of those members are gone. A couple of them are still around.

But it seems like Mike Johnson and the leadership of the GOP are very clearly under the spell of Donald Trump and would probably do everything they could to keep this from going to the floor, even though it's just the mere enforcement of a clear constitutional command as the Supreme Court itself pointed out. They're just saying, we're not the ones to do it. Congress has to be the one to do it.

BASH: Finally, Congressman, I want to look ahead to another case as the Supreme Court is going to hear. They're going to hear arguments next month in April, about the question of whether or not the former president can claim absolute immunity and criminal charges against him. Does today's decision give you any indication on how they will navigate that issue?

RASKIN: Well, of course, the treatment of one case on a discrete legal issue does not theoretically affect the treatment of another case dealing with a different theoretical issue. On the other hand, a lot of people have suggested that because this was a unanimous decision that the court wanted to do but enter into some kind of grand constitutional bargain that would restore some of the lost legitimacy of the court.

And they would say, therefore, nine to zero, this can't be up to the states, they can control only access to the state ballot, not the federal ballot. It's up to Congress. And then in the presidential immunity case, stick with the unanimous bipartisan ruling from the D.C. Circuit, saying, of course, we don't have any kings here. We don't have dictators.

No, a president cannot assassinate his political opponents and escape any kind of criminal consequences unless he's impeached in the House and convicted in the Senate, which was the argument that Trump's lawyers actually made before the D.C. Circuit.

So, I would hope that would happen. Unfortunately, there are at least three justices who were appointed or nominated to the court by Donald Trump who appeared not to be veering very far from what the MAGA element wants them to do. But let's hope that this is the case where they can vindicate themselves and also rehabilitate the very tarnished image of the Supreme Court at this point.

BASH: Yeah. The grand bargain. That's an interesting way to put it. I would say that obviously, Amy Coney Barrett was appointed by or sent up by nominated, I should say by the former president, Donald Trump, and she kind of charted her own path a bit today saying everybody needs to keep the temperature down. We will see how she follows that advice -- her own advice going forward with the immunity case. Congressman, thank you so much. Always great to see you.

RASKIN: You bet. My pleasure.

BASH: Any moment now, Donald Trump will speak on today's major Supreme Court decision. We're going to bring it to you live. Stay with us.




BASH: Welcome back as we wait to hear from the former president about this monumental Supreme Court decision. Let's talk more about it with our legal experts. We have Laura Coates at the Supreme Court, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams is here as is CNN's Joan Biskupic.

Laura, I'm going to go to you out there at the court. What is your sort of main takeaway? Now that you've had some time to read and digest. What's your main takeaway from how this all was written? How it all went down, particularly the prokarium at the beginning, and then the concurring opinions by the three liberals?

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Dana, we kind of had an inkling of what was going to come because we had that over to our oral argument. They were very skeptical about the idea of one state being able to make a determination that would impact the entire nation. And lo and behold, that was the very conclusion.

If you had to sum up all in one way, it'd be two things. Patchwork and stay in your lane. They did not want to have a patchwork of states deciding different ways to remove them from a ballot. In one state it might be secretary of state's office, and another might be a criminal prosecution. He didn't want to have an inconsistent result but also staying in your lane, you know, that the states are in charge of elections.

But here they said, yes, that's true for really a state office, but not for a federal one. And these justices said, look, you cannot have individual state, making these determinations for us the rest of the nation here. It was a really, really setting opinion, though, in its unanimity. But as you mentioned, there are three at least who have said, well, we agree with the patchwork analysis. After that you go too far. No one's asking you to tell the Congress how to do their job, and you're trying to.

BASH: Joan?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST & LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it was important to have the clarity that the justices brought here, nine zip the clarity. But I do want to point up the divisions. It's five to four. This is a five to four ruling on part of it. In terms of will there ever be any way that Donald Trump could be kept off any ballot in the future.

[12:20:00] The majority says, no way because it can only be enforced through an act of Congress in a particular way. And three of the liberals -- the three liberals who protested that really came on strong saying there should be other opportunities.

They quote the dissent from Bush v. Gore to say that, you know, to suggest this was another majority going too far as Bush v. Gore did in many people's minds. And that's when, you know, Amy Coney Barrett made her statement even though she joined the liberals on substance there. She said this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency. But I think what this reveals is the disagreement behind the scenes and probably more stridency to come.

BASH: Yeah. Let me just read exactly what Amy Coney Barrett said, which you're right but she's kind of the way I've been describing this kind of in her own -- in her own lane and her very brief comments. In my judgment, this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency. The court has settled a politically charged issue in the volatile season of a presidential election, particularly in the circumstance writings on the court should turn the national temperature down, not up.

And meanwhile, again, as Joan discussed, you talked about the fact that the three more liberal justices evoked Bush V. Gore. In the very beginning of what they wrote, they evoked Dobbs, and they were kind of throwing the majority's dobs decision in their face. If it is not necessary. This is on page 15.

If it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case than it is necessary to not to decide more Dobbs V. Jackson, Women's Health Organization, that fundamental principle of judicial restraint is practically as old as our republic. This court authorized to say what the law is only because those who apply rule to particular cases must of necessity, expound and interpret the law. Can you translate that into from legalese into English.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Legalese into English. These two cases in which the Supreme Court says we are only deciding on a very narrow issue and don't need to go beyond that. Now, far be it for me or Joan Biskupic, the real expert here about what's going on in an individual workplace or how people are interacting with each other.

But I think it's a shot across the bow from the three traditionally liberal justices citing beginning the opinion with Dobbs, which many feelings are raw about today in the country and ending the opinion that the last case they cite is Bush versus Gore. It was certainly even in the unanimity of the underlying decision. They agree fundamentally that one state should not be allowed to make a sweeping determination about ballot access. But, you know, there were some raw feelings, that I think.

BASH: And they are the only ones who used the term insurrection or insurrection is?

BISKUPIC: Four times---

BASH: Yes, they did.

BISKUPIC: They're referring to the oath breaking insurrectionists, not saying he definitely is one. But suggesting that is the shadow, of course, that is hanging over this case. The majority puckering didn't go that -- English.

WILLIAMS: And I actually think -- I don't think they even linked it to Trump, it was just a generic oath breaking insurrection who might one day be prosecuted for that. You were telling us that Congress -- only Congress can decide not a prosecution.

BASH: So, Laura, just going back to you and referring back to what Jamie Raskin said earlier in the program that this is a punt, and they're trying to get Congress to do something and they're going to try, but it's not necessarily going to work.

I know where you're standing. You've got the Supreme Court behind you, but you're facing the Capitol. You are literally right in the middle physically, geographically of that question. What are your thoughts on just the reality of that?

COATES: I mean, the bureaucracy never move quickly. And some would say it's not intended to move quickly. He mentioned the idea of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and gutting it, trying to punt the Congress to say now give me a new formula. We see how that is gone. It is not here. It remains guided for that very reason.

But look ahead to what this could mean ultimately, Dana, down the road. If the Supreme Court is willing to go beyond the very narrow question presented, which is a fancy way of saying, the court is asking you what is it you want me to do here? What are you asking me to do? Don't give me the entirety but just what is the narrow question you want answered.

If the three justices Kagan, Sotomayor and of course, Ketanji Brown Jackson, saying you can go beyond that, then what does it mean for the absolute immunity question? That's a very narrow question. I'm going to be asked in April 22 for an oral argument. I didn't go beyond that as well. Will it be more expansive. We look for an off-ramp bear.

Now there's a notion here, though, that this case was always going to be decided like this very way it has been decided, immunity perhaps differently. But the court has punted that seven weeks out. This one was resolved fairly quickly. But that calendar holds a month after an oral argument.

You're talking about close to June, and of course, then hundreds of days away at that point from the general election. This is a really important off ramp that they wanted to have. They wanted to have it narrow. They went a little bit farther, but I think we can all agree that the oral argument that happen a month ago in this case, had the writing on the wall that it should remain on that ballot.


BASH: Yeah. And as we've been saying there were differences about how narrow it truly was in the majority. Don't go anywhere. Everybody standby because we are waiting for the former president to speak on today's major Supreme Court decision. We're going to bring it to you live. But first, we are going to look at a slew of polls that came out over the weekend. Didn't look so great for the current president, also some red flags for the man who wants to get his old job back, Donald Trump. We'll be right back.