Guest Viewpoints

Why Trump Will Leave Office If He Loses the Election

October 7, 2020
By William Cooper

There is widespread concern that President Trump won’t leave office if he loses the election. This angst is understandable. Trump has, after all, refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.

But if Trump loses he will leave. Not, of course, because he wouldn't want to seize power and stay in office. But because he couldn't get away with it if he tried.

A fight about the election would ultimately go to the Supreme Court — just like it did in 2000. Trump won't stay in the White House if the Supreme Court rules against him. Why? Because staying would require Trump's entire administration, the military, and nearly three dozen senators (to withstand impeachment and removal) to all conspire in violating two sacred principles of our constitutional system: that courts are the final word in constitutional disputes and there are peaceful transitions of power after elections.

It won't happen.

There is broad recognition among liberals and conservatives alike that court orders must be followed. Always. Indeed, despite Trump's many losses in court — and despite his incendiary rhetoric targeting the judiciary — he has not disobeyed a court order.

This principle began in 1803 with Marbury v. Madison, when Chief Justice John Marshall declared that it “is emphatically the duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is.” Ever since, federal courts have issued orders resolving disputes — and the rest of the government has obeyed and enforced them. 

This was true when President Eisenhower sent federal troops into Arkansas to enforce Brown v. Board of Education. It was true when the Supreme Court ordered President Nixon to hand over his oval office tapes. It was true when the Supreme Court decided the 2000 presidential election.

And it's true now.

Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr recently embraced this principle. Barr was asked: “Should the Supreme Court have the exclusive power to interpret the constitution?” His response: “Yes.” If Trump "believes that he has the power to do something under the Constitution," Barr continued, "he should be able to exercise that power. And if the Court disagrees and orders him not to, then he's lost the case.”

And on September 24, a unanimous Senate passed a resolution reaffirming its commitment to a peaceful transfer of the executive power. 

True, Donald Trump has probably never heard of Marbury v. Madison. His allies are prone to making false statements. And he would happily disregard the Supreme Court to stay in office.  

But it's not up to him. It's up the innumerable executive branch, military and congressional leaders who must legitimize his presidency and carry out his orders. As we learned from the Mueller report, Trump couldn't get his own White House counsel to fire Bob Mueller; he’s not going to get his entire administration to seize the government.

Indeed, seizing power would be exponentially worse than anything Trump has attempted. It would be akin to signing and spending the annual budget without Congress’s approval; refusing to recognize or participate in an impeachment process; or issuing an executive order firing a life-tenured Supreme Court Justice.

We should expect a partisan battle over the election. We should expect Trump to fight hard in the courts. We should expect tense moments. Surprises. Disappointments. Shocks. But, ultimately, Trump will not defy a court order and prevent the peaceful transfer of power. 

Not because he wouldn't want to. But because he can't.

William Cooper is an American columnist who has written for The Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News, Jerusalem Post and USA Today, among other publications around the world.


My dear Children, Priests, Deacons, Readers, Monks, Nuns, my brothers and sisters in all the blessed countries of the African land, rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!.

Top Stories


NEW YORK - Some 21 years after it was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States that brought down the Twin Towers in New York City, the new St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church rising in its place is among the most eagerly awaited architectural openings of 2022.


STATEN ISLAND, NY – For yet another year, the community of Holy Trinity-St Nicholas in Staten Island honored couples celebrating 50+ years of marriage with a modest ceremony held at the church immediately following the Divine Liturgy on January 16.


NEW YORK – New research into Greek artifacts looted by the Nazis was highlighted in the New York Times on January 18 as “the topic of the Nazi role in antiquities looting is increasingly drawing attention, in part through the work of scholars who are peeling back the mysteries of what happened to the objects that were excavated or seized eight decades ago.


SNF’s Health Initiative Will Support Child and Adolescent Mental Health

ATHENS - When we think about childhood injuries, we usually think of scratches, a few stitches, maybe even a broken bone.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.