Trump as Hitler

A demonstrator holds a placard showing a picture of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump modified to add a swastika and an Adolf Hitler-style mustache during a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in London November 9, 2016.

(Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)

'I Remember Hitler,' Says 91-Year-Old Republican Behind Trump Eligibility Case

"I remember my cousin was with Eisenhower when they opened up the concentration camps... I mean, I understand protecting democracy."

The 91-year-old Colorado Republican who challenged former President Donald Trump's eligibility to be on the state's primary ballot referenced the existential threat to democracy and invoked Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler when explaining why she got involved in the case that came before the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments on Thursday.

"You have to remember, as old as I am, I was born in the Great Depression," Norma Anderson, who previously led the Colorado Senate and House of Representatives, told NPR. "I lived through World War II. I remember Hitler."

"I remember my cousin was with [then-U.S. Gen. Dwight] Eisenhower when they opened up the concentration camps," Anderson continued. "I mean, I understand protecting democracy."

Recalling when she watched on her home television as Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, she added, "They're trying to overthrow the government is what I was thinking."

Listen to oral arguments for Trump v. Anderson:

Backed by the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Anderson in September joined five other GOP and Indepedent Colorado voters in filing a lawsuit to keep Trump off the state's ballot, citing the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment bars anyone who has taken an oath to support the Constitution "as an officer of the United States" and then "engaged in insurrection" from holding any civil or military office, unless two-thirds of each chamber of Congress votes to allow them to do so.

The Colorado Supreme Court disqualified the Republican presidential front-runner from the state's primary ballot in December, agreeing with the voters that Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 loss that culminated in the Capitol attack during the certification of the election results amounted to engaging in insurrection.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case last month, at the urging of both the Colorado voters and Trump. The court has a right-wing supermajority that includes three Trump appointees—Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett—plus Justice Clarence Thomas, whose activist wife Ginni Thomas was involved with the GOP's 2020 election interference effort. None of them recused.

"On the merits, this is an open-and-shut case," Take Back the Court Action Fund president Sarah Lipton-Lubet said in a Thursday statement about Trump v. Anderson. "The 14th Amendment plainly states that insurrectionists are barred from holding office."

"Of course, the Republicans on the Supreme Court have shown they have no problem ignoring the obvious meaning of laws that conflict with their party's political interests," she added. "Donald Trump anticipated a moment like this one when he installed his right-wing supermajority. He thinks that these are his justices, on the court to do his bidding. Soon, we'll see if—and to what degree—he's right."

Common Cause was among various groups that submitted an amicus brief to the high court in support of removing the twice-impeached former president from the ballot.

"American democracy has never meant unchecked mob rule," Colorado Common Cause executive director Aly Belknap said Thursday. "Donald Trump sent an armed mob to the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of an election."

"His ongoing incitement has led to an unprecedented rise in attacks and death threats against election workers, judges, and other public servants," Belknap asserted. "There must be consequences for political violence—the Supreme Court must hold the former president accountable to the people and to the Constitution."

The presidential primary season is already underway. Trump has won the GOP's Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary by significant margins, setting him up to face Democratic President Joe Biden in November, unless he is barred from the contest.

The case before the country's highest court is "of extraordinary importance to our democracy," Campaign Legal Center senior vice president Paul Smith stressed Thursday. "It is vital that, one way or another, the court returns a clear ruling as quickly as possible to avoid any potential confusion in the upcoming presidential election. However the court decides, election officials deserve time to properly prepare for the upcoming election, and voters deserve time to make an informed decision."

As Roll Callreported Wednesday:

Several arguments made in the case offer the Supreme Court an opportunity to defer the dispute to a different branch of government, said Derek T. Muller, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame who focuses on election law.

"All of them are ways for the court to shift responsibility to another branch and to say, 'We're not going to deal with it now,'" Muller said. "And it leaves open questions for resolution, or maybe indeterminacy, in the weeks and months ahead."

During arguments, Slate legal writer Mark Joseph Stern said on social media that questions from Chief Justice John Roberts as well as Kavanaugh and Thomas "suggest to me that a consensus off-ramp is emerging: the notion that individual states cannot enforce Section 3's disqualification provision against federal candidates, or at least against the president."

"The problem is that Jonathan Mitchell's atrocious briefing and argument failed to put meat on the bones of this idea, so SCOTUS will have to improvise a justification," Stern added, referring to the Trump attorney who argued the case.

Justice Elena Kagan, one of the court's three liberals, also expressed "deep skepticism that a single state should be able to decide who can 'be president,'" he noted. "In my view this argument is as good as over. A majority will hold that individual states can't enforce Section 3 against the president, at least without congressional approval."

Currently, Republicans have a slim majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, while Democrats narrowly control the Senate, though the November elections could change that.

While voters and groups in several other states have launched similar legal battles to disqualify Trump, the only other successful one so far was in Maine, where Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, cited statute and the evidence of Trump's conduct to determine his name should not be on the ballot. Trump appealed the Maine disqualification, but a state judge in January deferred a decision in the case, citing the looming Supreme Court ruling.

"People from across the political spectrum and from all walks of life—from former members of Congress to constitutional scholars to everyday Americans—have come together in this exceptional and fragile moment in the history of American democracy to reinforce the Constitution's very purpose in safeguarding our democracy from insurrectionists," CREW president Noah Bookbinder said in a statement after the hearing.

Anderson, also weighing in post-arguments, said that "we stand here today not just as voters, but as defenders of the principles that define our democracy."

"Our fight to uphold the integrity of our electoral process is not about partisan politics; it's about preserving the very ideals for which our forefathers fought," she added. "Donald Trump's actions on January 6th stand in direct opposition to those sacred ideals and today, we stand before the Supreme Court seeking justice to ensure that no one, regardless of their party or popularity, is above accountability."

This post has been updated to reflect Dwight Eisenhower's position during WWII.

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