DONALD Trump’s hopes of a return to the White House are in the hands of the Supreme Court.
The justices will hear arguments on Thursday regarding Trump’s appeal of a Colorado Supreme Court ruling that found he wasn’t eligible to run due to a violation of the 14th Amendment.
The decision used Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars anyone from entering office who swore an oath to “support” the Constitution and then take part in “insurrection or rebellion” against it.
It has been only used a handful of times since the Civil War, but never to disqualify a presidential candidate.
However, the lawyers arguing the bombshell case aren’t part of the elite crowd of Supreme Court specialists that call Washington, DC home but rather attorneys with little experience inside the Beltway.
Arguing for Trump is Jonathan Mitchell, the only one out of the three who has experience arguing before the Supreme Court.
Thursday makes the sixth time he’ll do it, however, during his most recent case, he notably tested the patience of Justice Elena Kagan.
Representing the plaintiffs is Jason Murray, a partner at Olson Grimsley Kawanabe Hinchcliff & Murray LLC in Denver, which describes its missing as holding powerful people accountable.
Murray was able to successfully persuade the Colorado Supreme Court to declare Trump ineligible to run using the Constitution’s insurrection clause.
He’s also previously worked as a law clerk for Justices Kagan and Neil Gorsuch.
Last is Shannon Stevenson, the solicitor general of Colorado, who is speaking on behalf of the Colorado secretary of state.
Mitchell, 47, is a well-known conservative lawyer and legal theorist who once served as the Texas solicitor general.
He has also worked as a law professor and as a private litigator for his own law firm.
Before taking up the Trump case, Mitchell was more known for being behind the Texas abortion law that came before the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
The law bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone else who enables an abortion.
Because the law didn’t require state officials to enforce it, it was allowed to be implemented even before Roe was overturned.
Justice Kagan wasn’t too pleased to hear about the private-enforcement loophole during oral arguments, calling out the people behind it saying, “after, oh, these many years some geniuses came up with a way to evade” the court’s authority.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the Texas law “a breathtaking act of defiance of the Constitution” in a written dissent.
He attended the University of Chicago Law School and clerked for Judge J. Michael Luttig of the 4th Circuit US Court Appeals and for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who Mitchell calls his legal role model.
However, after his clerkship for Scalia, Mitchell told NPR that he was disillusioned by the Supreme Court.
“I didn’t have as much faith in the Supreme Court after the clerkship as I did before the clerkship,” he told the outlet.
“The decision-making was more politicized and more results-oriented than I would have expected.”
Murray, 38, will make his debut before the Supreme Court, arguing on behalf of Colorado voters.
Much of his experience has been as a trial lawyer in commercial litigation for the law firm Bartlit Beck LLP, based in Chicago and Denver.
However, last year, he left to form Olson Grimsley Kawanabe Hinchcliff & Murray LLC.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Murray once argued for then-nominee Gorsuch’s confirmation in 2017, writing in an op-ed for the Washington Post that despite their differences in political opinion, Gorsuch has a “zeal for the rule of law.”
“For both [Kagan and Gorsuch],” Murray wrote, “the goal was to reach the correct legal result, rather than advance any political party’s agenda.”
Eric Olson, who co-founded the firm with Murray, and helped argue the Trump case before Colorado’s top court, called Murray the right person to argue the case.
“The reason why he’s arguing is that our team, after talking through various options, agreed he was the best person for the job, in part because he knows the hardest material in the case the best,” Olson told Politico.
“He has a remarkable ability to engage with people who approach a problem from a different perspective in a way that doesn’t require him to prove you wrong in order to win the case.”
Argument time has also been granted to Stevenson so she may argue on behalf of Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold.
Stevenson became the state’s solicitor general early last year and argued that Colorado has the authority to exclude a candidate from the ballot if they have been deemed ineligible by the state’s courts.
She may also be asked to respond to certain parts of Trump’s argument that have to do with how the state executed the process to measure his eligibility for the ballot.
Stevenson is a former partner of the law firm Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP and chair of the firm’s advocacy department.
She attended law school at Duke University and clerked for Judge David M. Ebel on the 10th Circuit US Court of Appeals.
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