The Supreme Court Is Tilting 2024 in Trump’s Favor

scotus tilting 2024 trump

For the second time in a week, the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority has blessed the Trump campaign with a favorable ruling. The former president, who upon leaving office had nothing but scorn for the court he built, has been gushing about his success at the high court this term to colleagues in private. 

According to two people who’ve recently spoken to Trump about the Supreme Court this year, the ex-president has repeatedly praised the conservative justices for being “very fair” to him, in the face of a torrent of legal action and criminal charges that he’s faced while trying to reconquer the White House.

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a speedy ruling blocking states like Colorado from moving to toss Trump off their ballots on the grounds that he incited the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The decision, which will make it virtually impossible to block any insurrectionists from holding federal office, comes days after the court agreed to review Trump’s claim that he is entitled to immunity for acts he committed as president — a move that likely punted Trump’s criminal election subversion trial until after the 2024 election.

While the Supreme Court refused to help Trump steal the election in 2020, its recent maneuvers could easily tilt 2024 in the former president’s favor — and represent the most overt assistance that justices have given Republicans since the court handed the 2000 election to George W. Bush. (Notably, three of the court’s six conservative justices worked for Republicans on that case.)

By December 2020, Trump was willing to tell practically anyone in his White House who would listen how much he despised the actions of the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority, which he helped create. The then-outgoing president loudly complained that the justices he appointed were too “scared” of the backlash that would occur if they had supported his efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter. At the time, Trump also ranted about how he should have picked different justices who, when the chips were down, would have had his back and demonstrated (perhaps Trump’s favorite word) “loyalty.”

In the years of his post-presidency, Trump’s bitterness towards the right-wing justices he put on the bench persisted for a while, fueled by his anger at their squeamishness toward obliterating the nation’s democratic order in late 2020 and keeping Trump in power.

Monday’s ruling from the court — on its face, unanimous — showed how far the conservative majority is willing to go to protect Trump and Republican insurrectionists.

All nine justices agreed that Colorado, or any state, cannot unilaterally decide which candidates for federal are insurrectionists ineligible for placement on a ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — which bars “officers” who have “engaged in insurrection” against the U.S. Constitution from holding “any office.” But five of the Republican-appointed justices went further than that binary question, and instead invented a new system to decide who in government is empowered to make a decision about an alleged insurrectionist’s eligibility for federal office.

The conservative majority excluded federal courts from having any say in such decisions and instead instructed that only Congress can, through a “particular kind of legislation,” determine whether insurrectionists are eligible to hold office. The three liberal justices blasted the majority’s opinion as an attempt “to insulate all alleged insurrectionists from future challenges to their holding federal office.”

The aggressive new framework created by the conservative justices even prompted a rare, if veiled, rebuke from the Trump-appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who pointed out that the facts of the case did “not require us to address the complicated question whether federal legislation is the exclusive vehicle through which Section 3 can be enforced.” Barrett further counseled that her colleagues should avoid “stridency” in the midst of a presidential election, when the court should seek to “turn the national temperature down, not up.”

Given routine gridlock in Congress and the fact that most House Republicans baselessly voted against certifying the 2020 election results, the chances of lawmakers passing new legislation to keep out insurrectionist candidates are precisely zero.

The state of Colorado aimed to keep Trump off the ballot because he fomented the Capitol insurrection. With its decision Monday, the Supreme Court has opened the possibility that individuals who participated in or were convicted for their involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection can run for federal office unimpeded, absent the unlikely congressional action the court is now demanding. 

“I do think that their decision coupled with an improbability of congressional action means that federal oath-breaking candidates have a free pass to run for office again,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, whose decision to disqualify Trump led to the high court case, told Rolling Stone in an interview on Monday. “There’s a lot that I disagree with in this decision. Ultimately, as an elected official, it’s my job to follow the Supreme Court’s decision.”

The ruling Monday caps off a banner week at the Supreme Court for Trump. Last week, Trump, his lawyers, advisers, and close allies were absolutely ecstatic when the Supreme Court agreed to hear Trump’s claim that he is immune from prosecution for all acts committed as president, a move that will significantly delay Special Counsel Jack Smith’s election subversion trial. 

As Rolling Stone reported at the time, a lawyer close to Trump said they were “literally popping champagne” bottles in response to the news. This is because, according to legal experts, the Supreme Court and its conservative supermajority rendered it extremely unlikely that the Smith  trial will start before Election Day in November. 

Some of Trump’s most senior lieutenants had privately warned him that a pre-election criminal conviction in that federal trial, in particular, could spell “disaster” for his chances of beating Biden.

For several months, Trump’s attorneys have hoped that their salvo of delay tactics would push the Smith trial as far down the calendar as possible — but they were mostly preparing for the federal trial to begin in the summer.

To the delight of the Trump legal team and his campaign, they are getting more help than they anticipated.

Of course, another Trump criminal trial, related to hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, is slated to start in New York next month. But Team Trump has been significantly more optimistic about their chances of managing the political fallout from that trial, compared to what could happen during and after a trial related to, for instance, Trump’s attempts to cling to presidential power that climaxed in mob violence and deaths. 

Elsewhere, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is in hot water over claims she hired her romantic partner as a special prosecutor in Trump’s Georgia election interference case. The Manhattan district attorney’s case may now be the only criminal trial of Trump that occurs in this election year. And if Trump wins in November, he and his MAGA allies plan to diligently undo all the work of federal investigators and prosecutors, and seek vengeance against them.

By Monday morning, the jubilation only increased, with what one attorney in the Trump orbit bluntly describes to Rolling Stone this week as a “winning streak” at the highest court in the land.


Within a half hour of the Supreme Court’s decision, Trump and his 2024 team were already enthusiastically fundraising off the ruling. “SUPREME COURT RULES TO KEEP ME ON THE BALLOT!” his campaign texted supporters and donors, urging them to check out “my emergency broadcast.”

In a press conference shortly after the opinion, Trump thanked the justices he had scorned as disloyal four years ago. “It was a very important decision, very well crafted,” the former president said. “They worked long, they worked hard, and frankly they worked very quickly on something that will be spoken about a 100 years from now and 200 years from now,” he said before pivoting to a demand that the court grant him immunity in his next case before them.

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