Friday Briefing: Will Trump Be Allowed to Hold Office Again?

The Supreme Court justices seemed skeptical of arguments to kick Donald Trump off state ballots and disqualify him from holding office because of his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

The State Supreme Court in Colorado ruled in December that Trump’s conduct in trying to subvert the 2020 race made him ineligible to hold office. The court based its ruling on a constitutional provision that bars people who have sworn to support the Constitution and then engaged in insurrection.

But in Washington yesterday, Supreme Court justices across the ideological spectrum expressed skepticism about several aspects of the Colorado ruling. A majority of them indicated that individual states may not disqualify national candidates unless Congress first enacts legislation. The timing of the ruling is unclear, but the court has fast-tracked the case.

Historical context: Not since Bush v. Gore, the 2000 decision that handed the presidency to George Bush, has the court assumed such a direct role in the outcome of a presidential contest.

As results began to trickle in yesterday, the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — the military’s preferred party — was expected to win. Few doubted that it would come out on top, a reflection of the generals’ ultimate hold on Pakistan’s troubled democracy.

But it did not look like it would be the easy victory that was widely predicted: Candidates allied with another former prime minister, Imran Khan, were neck and neck with Sharif’s party in many races in Punjab, the most populous province and the country’s political heartland.

Rights groups have condemned the election as neither free nor fair, and some Pakistanis have called it a “selection,” not an election. Yesterday, the government suspended mobile phone service, citing a tense security situation. Some analysts called it an effort to keep opposition voters from getting information or coordinating activities.

What’s next: It could take days for votes to be officially counted. No party is expected to win an outright majority, meaning that the one with the largest share of seats would form a coalition government.


President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said he had removed his top general in the most significant leadership shake-up since Russia invaded Ukraine almost two years ago.

Zelensky praised Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the commander who has led the nation’s war effort for two years, but said that “urgent changes” were needed to ensure victory. It was unclear whether Zaluzhny, who is widely popular in Ukraine’s military and society, had resigned or been fired.

Context: The upheaval comes at a precarious moment for Ukraine. Russian attacks have intensified amid tensions between the government and military leadership, and critical U.S. aid still hangs in the balance.

Bologna has become the first major Italian city to impose a speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour on most streets. The mayor argues that the measure, which mirrors similar policies in other European cities, will lead to a safer, healthier and more livable city.

But the policy has a lot of critics, who argue that it will bring Bologna to a standstill. “A city has to move,” one cabby said.

In Australia, “out of office” may soon take on a whole new level of importance.

The Senate passed a bill that would give workers the right to ignore calls and messages outside of working hours — without fear of repercussion. Under the bill, which follows similar models from Europe, companies could face fines for penalizing employees who fail to respond. It is expected to pass Australia’s House with ease.

Unions and others have long argued for the right to disconnect, an idea that grew more popular during the coronavirus pandemic. However, some critics call it a government overreach that could hurt businesses.

How do you feel about “right to disconnect” laws? Let us know by filling out this form. We may use your response in an upcoming newsletter.

That’s it for today’s briefing. I hope you have a lovely weekend! — Amelia

P.S. Our Shanghai bureau chief, Alexandra Stevenson, shared the games, books, films and songs that are in her queue.

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