What Happens Next in Trump’s Supreme Court Case on His Eligibility


WASHINGTON — It usually takes the Supreme Court about three months after an argument to issue a decision. The biggest rulings tend not to arrive until late June, no matter how early in the term the cases were argued.

But the case argued Thursday is different, and the nation can expect a prompt ruling.

The justices put the case on a fast track when they agreed to hear it, and the parties have asked for a quick decision, saying that voters must know soon whether former President Donald Trump is eligible to be on the ballot. The question, Trump’s lawyers told the justices, “urgently require this court’s prompt resolution.”

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Lawyers for the six Colorado voters who challenged Trump’s eligibility asked the court to rule by Sunday, the day before the state mails primary ballots. “Having a decision on the merits by Feb. 11 would ensure that every in-state Colorado voter knows of this court’s decision before receiving their ballot and casting their primary vote,” the challengers told the court.

That deadline seems unrealistic. But the court may well act before the Super Tuesday on March 5, when Colorado and 14 other states hold their presidential primaries.

If the justices follow their usual practices, they will meet in the coming days to cast tentative votes at a private conference. The senior justice in the majority will then assign the majority opinion to a colleague or, just as likely, keep it. Draft opinions, probably including concurrences and dissents, will be prepared and exchanged.

All of this will most likely happen at an uncomfortably brisk pace given the complexity of the legal issues and the stakes involved. But there is precedent for acting quickly in a major election case. The court issued its decision in Bush v. Gore, the 2000 decision that handed the presidency to George W. Bush, the day after it was argued.

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