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Supreme Court may look to the Civil War to resolve whether Trump can be on the ballot.

WASHINGTON — It was in a packed courtroom in Richmond, Virginia — the former capital of the Confederacy — in December 1868 where Chief Justice Salmon Chase concluded that Jefferson Davis, the defeated rebel president, should not face prosecution for treason.

Little would anyone have known at the time that Chase’s decision —in addition to another one he authored the following year touching upon the same legal issue but reaching a different conclusion — would re-emerge from the mists of history to play a role in the ongoing dispute over whether former President Donald Trump should be barred from office.

Both Chase cases — the other concerned a Black man seeking to throw out his criminal conviction — feature in court filings ahead of the Supreme Court’s oral argument in Trump’s case next week. In each instance, Chase was sitting on a lower court so was not acting in his role as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Both include a rare contemporary discussion of Section 3 of the then-recently enacted 14th Amendment to the Constitution.


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