Rep. Jamie Raskin, the House Oversight Committee’s ranking Democrat, said on Sunday that he believes Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself if the high court decides to hear cases regarding decisions in some states on whether to remove Donald Trump from primary ballots in 2024.
The Maryland Democrat’s remarks came after officials in Colorado and Maine recently decided that the former president and current front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination is not eligible to appear on their ballots, citing the Constitution’s insurrection clause.
“It was actually two very conservative legal scholars who wrote the best, most authoritative law review article on the whole thing, saying that Donald Trump is clearly disqualified from being on the ballot because he participated in insurrection,” Raskin told co-anchor Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “So this becomes a test for the originalists and the textualists on the Supreme Court. And I think all of the justices from left to right call themselves textualists and originalists.”
“The language of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is very clear,” he said of the Civil War-era clause. “It says if you have sworn an oath to support the Constitution and violated the oath by engaging in insurrection or rebellion, you can never hold public office again. And the original purposes of it are equally clear, because actually, when the language was first authored by the radical Republicans in Congress, it was very broad.”
Raskin, a former constitutional law professor, also served on the House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. The bipartisan panel concluded that Trump and his allies carried out a plan to keep him in power, including inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as Congress met to certify the presidential vote. Trump currently faces charges in multiple cases related to the attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
Earlier this month, the Colorado Supreme Court removed Trump from the state’s ballot, but the decision was stayed until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether the former president violated the insurrection clause. The state’s Republican Party appealed the decision, and Raskin has previously said that the high court should take on the case.
Last week in Maine, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows removed Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot for the same reason. After Trump’s campaign announced plans to appeal the decision, Bellows suspended her ruling until Maine’s state courts have ruled on the case.
“I think that the urgency is for the Supreme Court to act,” Raskin said. “But I think it’s going to be tough for some of them, if they want to keep Trump on the ballot, if they’re falling for the argument that this is undemocratic.”
Though the Supreme Court recently developed what it calls an ethics code, the lawmaker stressed that it is nonbinding, “so they’re deciding for themselves again whether they’re in violation of their code of ethics.” Given that the high court has a conservative majority, including three justices who were nominated by Trump, Raskin stressed the importance of some members recusing themselves if they come across cases related to the former president’s name being removed from ballots.
The Democrat cited Thomas in particular. The conservative justice has been mired in controversy for multiple reasons, but related to this case is the activism of his wife, Ginni Thomas, who elevated Trump’s election fraud lies and was part of the crowd at Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in which the then-president extolled his supporters to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol.
According to Raskin, Clarence Thomas must recuse himself if the high court hears a 14th Amendment case regarding Trump.
“He should. Oh, he absolutely should recuse himself. The question is, what do we do if he doesn’t recuse himself?”