The Colorado Steal

Rodney Clough
3 min readMar 18, 2024
The Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Building in Denver. Photo courtesy of Hart Van Denburg/CPR News

Where oh where did all the voters go?

Farcical is the term I choose to describe how the media has covered the Supreme Court decision in Trump v. Anderson, aka the Colorado ballot case. Little wonder that late night comedy show hosts are a viewer’s source of court insight and relevance these days.

As reported in the daytime media, the US Supreme Court decision — or rather the lack thereof — had less to do with section 3 of the fourteenth amendment by which the case was brought than it had to do with numbers.

The US Supreme Court has an numbers itch waiting to be scratched.

The Colorado Supreme Court decision was 4–3 in favor of disqualifying Trump’s name from appearing on the state Republican primary ballot, an initiative brought by a voters’ rights group whose majority identifies as Republicans.

‘Oh, it's a federal not a state office that’s being filled,’ you say. Except that the ballot is state administered, and a voting advocacy group brought the case on behalf of all Colorado voters.

Stay with me here. It gets better.

The US Supreme Court decision in the case was 9–0. a number which conceals the number of dissenters on the larger question of interpreting section 3. Depending on one’s court case opinion read, that number of dissenters was either three or four. (1) And yet the term “unanimous,” (2) which is infrequently used in describing Supreme Court opinions, was re-serviced by one of its own, Justice Amy Coney Barrett (3)

Not to mention that a majority argument rested on a hypothetical number of states that could obscure the meaning of section 3 by taking Biden’s name off the ballot. Nor on an abstract number of disenfranchised voters. It was as if the US Supreme Court decided to pause the weight of history and precedent and go number harvesting.

In a debate when the question being deliberated is overwhelmed by zero sum game playing, the question for which participants are invited to clarify gets muddied and muddled. Outcome dominates process and consensus is dragged through expectations. Scripts are flipped, and teetering on the tracks, America, as we know her, lurches on.

“It will be wild.”

March 18

Notes

1- Kagan, KBJ, Sotomayor or Kagan, KBJ, Sotomayor, Coney Barrett.

2- Ilya Shapiro, “There’s a certain elegance to the off-ramp that all nine justices chose, forestalling further partisan toxicity and avoiding any labeling of a “MAGA court” and the like.” March 8, Fox News

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/unanimous-supreme-court-trump-case-tells-about-legal-elites

3- Author, “The Misplaced Bravado of Justice Amy Coney Barrett,” March 7, Medium

https://medium.com/@rodneyclough/the-misplaced-bravado-of-justice-coney-barrett-18925991040b

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Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.