Campaigners across the US are trying to find ways to stop Trump from being the Republican nominee. None will succeed

The Colorado Supreme Court last week heard arguments in a case brought to prevent Donald Trump from appearing on the state's ballots in the 2024 presidential election on the grounds of his role in an insurrection against the US government in 2021.

Trump opponents have been trying this strategy in a number of states for many months now - a necessary approach since, under the US's federal system, states oversee their own elections.

Though Colorado's Supreme Court has yet to issue a ruling, it's almost certain that Trump will appear on ballots in the state next year if, as presumed, he wins the Republican primaries and becomes the GOP's presidential candidate for the third time.

Similar court challenges have already failed in other states (and in a lower court in Colorado), and, according to Esquire's Charles P. Pierce, the general tenor of the Colorado Supreme Court justices' questioning "was one of desperate yearning for a way out" of having to bar Trump from the ballot.

At issue here is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the US constitution, which bars former officers of the US who "have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof" from holding office.

At the time of its adoption in 1868 - during the period after the Civil War referred to as 'reconstruction' - the 14th Amendment's primary function was to explicitly grant former slaves citizenship of both the United States and the states in which they resided, along with equal protection under the law.

This birthright citizenship provision is the main reason that many of today's Republicans would like to repeal or at least revise the 14th Amendment, which would allow them to disenfranchise and deport the American-born children of undocumented immigrants.

The amendment has alsobeen interpreted as incorporating the constitution's Bill of Rights into state law, an important change to American federalism that has helped advance the cause of civil rights. But Section 3 is only newly relevant thanks to the events of 6 January 2021 and the likelihood that Trump will once again be chosen by Republican primary voters as their party's presidential candidate.

I am admittedly no lawyer or constitutional scholar but, to me, this section seems pretty cut and dried - it should prevent Trump from ever holding elected office again.

That it clearly will not, however, is just another depressing illustration of how the US has no effective institutional safeguards to keep the country from descending into dictatorship when one of the two parties in our two-party system is determined to take us there. They are free to opt for authoritarianism over democracy in order to retain power for the wealthy and powerful - and particularly for white Christian men - over the marginalized.

And if the 14th Amendment won't keep Trump from becoming president again, then neither will any of the criminal convictions that may be handed down on the many charges against him between now and the vote next November.

I had already reached that conclusion in August, when pundits were mostly saying we simply have no way of knowing for sure whether an imprisoned felon can become president. It's been funny watching that kind of analysis fade away in favor of accepting that not only is a third Trump candidacy inevitable, but so is a second Trump term as president should he win next year, regardless of whether he's been convicted of conspiring to defraud the US government or any of the numerous other state and federal charges against him.

To be sure, no primary elections have even taken place yet, but Trump is averaging about 60% in the polls, with no other Republican candidate even coming close.

And yes, any of the Republican presidential candidates would be disastrous for BIPOC Americans, religious minorities, women, and queer and especially trans folks. But Trump's team is best organized and positioned to fully politicize the federal bureaucracy and completely do away with the rule of law, making it even easier to deprive members of marginalized groups of their rights.

Those are the stakes of the 2024 election, and we must act accordingly.

From openDemocracy

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