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Our View: SCOTUS went too far with federal legislation in Trump ballot ruling

Longtime Republican politician Norma Anderson, lead plaintiff in the case to remove Donald Trump from the Colorado primary ballot based on the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause, told The Colorado Sun’s Diane Carman: “After watching Jan. 6 all day, seeing someone trying to overthrow an election, I was appalled. If that isn’t insurrection, I don’t know what is.”

The U.S. Supreme Court was asked to decide whether an individual state may keep a presidential candidate found to have engaged in insurrection off its ballot. Yet, none of the justices took a position on insurrection, as Colorado’s district court and Supreme Court had, in its unanimous decision on Monday to keep Trump’s name on ballots.

Allowing the states such power in determining who could run for and hold federal office could have led to a “patchwork” approach, fracturing the country. The president could be selected by a portion of the voters, not the whole, “inconsistent with the principle that the president represents all voters in the nation.”

Fine. Voters decide who should become president. It’s up to us.

But high court justices should have stopped right there, turned off the lights and gone home. Instead, the majority overreached and said Congress must pass legislation for the 14th Amendment to be enforced against a federal candidate. Despite the court’s decision being unanimous, four justices took issue with this.

We agree with them, and side with Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ketanji Brown Jackson and Amy Coney Barrett.

Sotomayor, Kagan and Jackson said the majority opinion was meant to insulate the court and Trump “from future controversy.” Now, controversy is just around the corner. Barrett said it should not have addressed “the complicated question whether federal legislation is the exclusive vehicle through which Section 3 can be enforced.” Emphasis on the word enforced.

Can you imagine our U.S. Congress having to act around this? We can’t. A quagmire waiting to happen.

Consider the situation if Trump were to win the presidency in November with the House and Senate led by Democrats. This might set up a constitutional showdown that could incite chaos, division and even danger for all of us in this country. Something SCOTUS has said it wanted to avoid.

Note to high court justices: Please, only resolve the question presented. Anything more is unnecessary and a misuse of authority.

If this weren’t enough, we’re frustrated that SCOTUS set a hearing on Trump’s claim of presidential immunity for the week of April 22. That delay could be consequential.

It increases the probability that neither of two federal indictments against Trump, who’s facing 91 felony charges, will come to trial before the November election. Those trials, should they occur, would examine Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 insurrection and his sequestering of classified government documents in his Mar-a-Lago home.

The public needs to know detailed facts about who it’s considering for president. Instead of turning down the heat in this political climate, SCOTUS managed the opposite. It has cranked it right up.