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Trump v. Anderson: Historic case will test Supreme Court

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When they don their black robes and enter the U.S. Supreme Court chamber Thursday, the nine justices will be stepping into unfamiliar territory.

For the first time in its history, the Supreme Court is being asked to determine if the Constitution disqualifies a presidential candidate. Specifically, the case asks if a Civil War-era constitutional provision bars Donald Trump from the ballot because of his actions on and around the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Why We Wrote This

The Supreme Court issues landmark decisions every term. But they normally don’t involve obscure sections of the Constitution, a presidential election, and a need for speed. Trump v. Anderson is going to test the justices’ ability to work as a court.

Trump v. Anderson echoes several of the high court’s most momentous decisions. The lawsuit raises novel and complex legal questions, it concerns a pressing and divisive national issue, and it will have immediate and profound consequences for the United States. Whatever decision the Supreme Court reaches, it will anger a significant portion of the electorate.

The high court is no stranger to consequential rulings. In the past two years alone, it has issued landmark decisions in cases involving abortion access, gun rights, and affirmative action.

While those issues have been heavily litigated for decades, the justices will go into Thursday’s argument with very little experience adjudicating this section of the Constitution.

“Most of the time, the justices know what they think about a particular case, and they have a pretty good idea of what the others think” before oral arguments, says law professor Gerard Magliocca. “This time, neither will be true.”

When they don their black robes and enter the U.S. Supreme Court chamber tomorrow, the nine justices of the court will be stepping into unfamiliar territory.

For the first time in its history, the Supreme Court is being asked to determine if the Constitution disqualifies a presidential candidate. Specifically, Thursday’s case asks if a Civil War-era constitutional provision bars Donald Trump from the ballot because of his actions on and around the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The case, Trump v. Anderson, echoes several of the high court’s most momentous decisions. The lawsuit raises novel and complex legal questions, it concerns a pressing and divisive national issue, and it will have immediate and profound consequences for the country. Whatever decision the Supreme Court reaches, it will anger a significant portion of the electorate.

Why We Wrote This

The Supreme Court issues landmark decisions every term. But they normally don’t involve obscure sections of the Constitution, a presidential election, and a need for speed. Trump v. Anderson is going to test the justices’ ability to work as a court.

The current high court is no stranger to consequential rulings. In the past two years alone, the court has issued landmark decisions in cases involving abortion access, gun rights, and affirmative action.

While those issues have been heavily litigated for decades, the justices will go into Thursday’s argument with very little experience adjudicating this section of the Constitution. It will also be the first time they hear a case pertaining directly to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s persistent false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. 

“Most of the time, the justices know what they think about a particular case, and they have a pretty good idea of what the others think” before oral arguments, says Gerard Magliocca, a professor at Indiana University School of Law.



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