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ELECTIONS Former Federal Judge Says Trump Likely to Remain on Ballot

By: Steve Ulrich | Politics PA | February 16, 2024

Speaking in Lancaster last week, former federal judge John E. Jones III said that it is likely that former President Donald Trump will remain on the ballot in Colorado and other challenging states.

Jones, now president of Dickinson College in Carlisle, was a member of a panel hosted by Keep Our Republic, a nonpartisan civic organization, entitled “Trust In Our Elections: A Community Conversation.”

After listening to the oral arguments at the Supreme Court, Jones said that he is “sure with a reasonable degree of certainty that the court is going to overturn and vacate the decision of the Colorado Supreme Court. I think it’s gonna be a very broadly based decision.”

Jones, who retired as chief judge of the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania, then pivoted to the immunity case.

“I believe that it is highly unlikely the Supreme Court will take up that case,” he said. “I also don’t believe they’ll stay the decision which was very thorough by the D.C. Circuit, which means the ramification that is it sooner rather than later, probably late spring. Judge (Tanya) Chutkan is going to convene a criminal trial down in D.C. that will be the seminal event that affects this election, in my view.

“You remember Richard Nixon said in 1973, at the height of Watergate, that the people the United States deserved to know whether their president is a corrupt, and I’m not a crook? Well, my view is the people of the United States deserve to know whether Donald Trump was guilty of any of these 91 counts with which he was charged, because it should be in their calculus when they vote.”

During the 90-minute panel discussion, Jones talked about the litigation that followed the 2020 presidential election and the challenges those lawsuits posed to the process.

In one anecdote, he mentioned that he was on the bench and ruled against a group that was seeking to disenfranchise thousands of inactive voters, claiming without evidence that they were deceased. That was the opinion that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was brandishing during his infamous Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference.

Trial judges, he said, apply the law impartially “without fear or favor” and the public should be “extremely confident” in their rulings.

Polls have shown a decline in interest in voting among young people, particularly those between 18 and 24-years of age. Jones said that, at least on his campus, students today are much different than in the past.

“What I find on on our campus at Dickinson is that they’re very eclectic. They don’t like to be typecast as Republicans or Democrats. They are choosy about their issues, and the things that they feel passionately about.”

He also said that it is continuing education practice at the college.

“When the Dobbs decision came out a couple of years ago, overturning Roe v.Wade, of course, a lot of students were very upset about that. And I said to them, elections mean something. They lead to the selection of Supreme Court justices. And so you have to give them a push.

“I think we have to fight that apathy that is endemic to our youth and also understand that they have counterintuitive views on different issues. They really reject being pigeonholed as conservative, liberal, and so forth.”