WASHINGTON — It typically takes the Supreme Court about three months after a debate to issue a decision. The most important decisions usually don’t come until the end of June, regardless of when the business debate begins.
But the case being debated Thursday is different and the nation can expect a quick decision.
The justices fast-tracked the case when they agreed to hear it, and the parties called for a quick decision, saying voters need to know soon whether the former president Donald Trump is eligible to be placed on the ballot. The issue, Trump’s lawyers told the justices, “urgently demands a speedy resolution from this court.”
Lawyers for the six Colorado electors who challenged Trump’s eligibility asked the court to rule by Sunday, the day before the state mails out primary ballots. “Having a decision on the merits by February 11 would ensure that every voter in the State of Colorado is informed of this court’s decision before receiving their ballot and voting in the primary,” the challengers said to the court.
This deadline seems unrealistic. But the court could well act before Super Tuesday on March 5, when Colorado and 14 other states hold their presidential primaries.
If the justices follow their usual practices, they will meet in the coming days to cast tentative votes in a private conference. The lead judge in the majority will then assign the majority opinion to a colleague or, just as likely, retain it. Draft opinions, likely including opinions of agreement and dissent, will be prepared and exchanged.
All of this will most likely happen at an uncomfortably rapid pace given the complexity of the legal issues and issues involved. But there is precedent for moving quickly in a major election case. The court issued its decision in Bush v. Gore, the 2000 decision that handed the presidency to George W. Bush, the day after the debate.
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