Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson quickly abandoned her “insurrection” questioning on Thursday when former President Donald Trump’s lawyer Jonathan Mitchell pointed out that the term, although used widely by corporate media, Democrats, and Colorado’s lawyers, does not accurately describe the events of the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.
The exchange occurred during oral arguments for the presidential frontrunner’s challenge to the Colorado Supreme Court’s December 2023 ruling affirming Democrats’ decision to remove Trump from the Centennial State’s 2024 primary ballot.
After going back and forth with Mitchell several times about what constitutes eligibility for constitutional disqualification from holding office, Jackson pivoted to the definition of insurrection.
In a question about “the violent attempts of the petitioner’s supporters in this case to ‘halt the count’ on January 6 qualified as an insurrection as defined by Section 3,” Jackson asked Mitchell to clarify his position on whether or not Trump engaged in “insurrection” during the Capitol riot in 2021.
Jackson clearly sourced her framing from the corporate media and Democrats who, mere minutes into the 2021 Capitol riot, deemed the bedlam a criminal product of Trump.
They immediately lumped the patriotic, law-abiding citizens with concerns about the 2020 election’s legitimacy protesting in D.C. with the people who vandalized Capitol property. Big Tech weaponized this mischaracterization to justify its censorship of Trump’s social media calls for peace. President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice also adopted the sweeping insurrection accusations as its primary motivation to prosecute any and every one of its political enemies in or near the federal building that day.
“I read your opening brief to accept that those events counted as an insurrection but then your reply seemed to suggest that they were not,” Jackson said.
“We never accepted or conceded in our opening brief that this was an insurrection,” Mitchell retorted. “What we said in our opening brief was President Trump did not engage in any act that can plausibly be characterized as insurrection.”
Jackson, unsatisfied with Mitchell’s prompt rejection of her assertion, doubled down.
“So why would it not be?” Jackson pressed. “What is your argument that it’s not? Your reply brief says that it wasn’t because, I think you say, it did not involve an organized attempt to overthrow the government.”
Mitchell conceded “an organized concerted effort to overthrow the government of the United States through violence” is one of the defining factors of an insurrection but said Trump’s actions never met that standard.
“My point is that a chaotic effort to overthrow the government is not an insurrection?” Jackson asked.
“We didn’t concede that it’s an effort to overthrow the government either, Justice Jackson,” Mitchell replied. “None of these criteria were met.”
“This was a riot. It was not an insurrection,” Mitchell concluded. “The events were shameful criminal violence, all of those things, but did not qualify as insurrection as that term is used in Section Three.”
Mitchell continued but was interrupted by Jackson who hurriedly ended her questioning time.