Former RNC chair weighs in on Trump ballot Supreme Court case

ABC News' Linsey Davis spoke to Marc Racicot on brief supporting Colorado.

ByABC News
February 9, 2024, 2:29 PM

On Thursday, the Supreme Court heard arguments from representatives from Colorado and attorneys of former president Donald Trump concerning the state's move to remove him from the GOP primary ballot this year.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump is not qualified to run for office because he "engaged in insurrection" on Jan. 6, 2021.

Former RNC Chair and former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot was one of three former Republican governors who filed a brief supporting the state's decision. He spoke with ABC News' Linsey Davis about his thoughts on the Supreme Court's hearing.

PHOTO: People gather outside the US Supreme Court during the hearing in Washington, February 8, 2024.
People gather outside the US Supreme Court during the hearing in Washington, February 8, 2024.
Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images

ABC NEWS LIVE: Trump called today's Supreme Court hearing "a beautiful process" and claimed his arguments were well received. What did you make of the hearing?

MARC RACICOT: Well, it's a typical judicial hearing it appeared to me. Obviously, they have written briefs and gone over all the topics of consideration, and there are a great many. And then they have ruminated about it and asking questions, I think, before they go to the process of making a final decision. So I thought it was a fairly routine hearing. I don't think you can make much from the questions. I would suspect that whatever the former president may have tried to surmise is pure speculation, maybe an effort to comfort himself but, at the end of the day, I've never found the questions from the Supreme Court necessarily indicate which direction the court was going.

ABC NEWS LIVE: You want Trump disqualified. You say that he does not meet the qualifications; based on what?

RACICOT: Well, there are four qualifications here. First of all, Linsey, nobody has a right to run. The fact is that we have a constitutional right to vote, but we don't have a right to run for office unless we meet qualifications. And that's virtually true for almost every position in America, whether it's the city council or it happens to be a Supreme Court justice or a president of the United States. And there are three in the Constitution as it was originally written, and those are an age requirement, 35, [live] 14 years in the United States of America, [be] native-born and then a fourth one added in 1868. And that one is the one under surveillance today by all of us, looking to see what might happen.

So… [the] language is very simple. It's very unmistakable. And as a consequence, when you apply those four characteristics, the burden is on Mr. Trump here to prove that he meets all those various federal qualifications. [It's] not on the state to disprove, but it's some of his burden to prove that, in fact, he is qualified. Colorado found him unqualified. And I think the proof was overwhelming after a very lengthy and detailed hearing.

ABC News Live: Now, while you say that you can't necessarily infer based on the Supreme Court justices' questions, it did seem that some of them expressed some skepticism through their questions that an individual state has the authority to deny a candidate from the ballot. To quote Justice Elena Kagan, "Why should a single state have the ability to make this determination not only for their own citizens, but for the rest of the nation?" How do you respond to that?

RACICOT: Well, I would respond to that, that the case that they have had consideration focuses upon Colorado. And as a matter of fact, I think that typically in a judicial proceeding, focused on just the question in front of them. And, justices are just like every other human being. We've all had questions about, well, is it possible that this might happen, that might happen. And clearly, they are charged with the duty of making inquiry. But at the end of the day, this is not about Colorado determining what happens with the rest of the country. This is about whether or not the decision of the Colorado Supreme Court is going to be upheld by this court.

PHOTO: Former GOP National Campaign Chairman Marc Racicot speaks at a news conference for a Bush-Cheney campaign event in Seattle, July 17, 2004.
Former GOP National Campaign Chairman Marc Racicot speaks at a news conference for a Bush-Cheney campaign event in Seattle, July 17, 2004.
Jim Bryant/AP, FILE

ABC NEWS LIVE: Now ABC [News] polling last May reflected the public's erosion of trust. It showed 51% said politics, not the law, drive Supreme Court decisions. So with that, what do you say to voters who believe if Trump were to be removed, that it would be disenfranchising their right to decide the president for themselves?

RACICOT: Well, what if Mr. Trump were 34 years old and he couldn't run? He was disqualified from running, is that disenfranchising voters? [Or] because he didn't live in the country for 14 years, or he wasn't a native citizen? As a matter of fact, he pursued this particular line of attack with Barack Obama.

So at the end of the day, it's pretty plain and, frankly, I think if you are really an originalist Supreme Court and you believe in what it is that you say is a method of judicial interpretation, then you simply can't escape coming to the conclusion that, in fact, it applies in this instance. So we can ruminate and speculate about what will happen here or what will happen here or there. The question before the court was, is the Colorado Supreme Court correct in its interpretation of the Constitution, namely Amendment 14, Section Three? That's the only question.