Colorado Supreme Court: Trump barred from state ballot under insurrection clause

Donald Trump

DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court removed former President Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 presidential ballot on Tuesday, ruling that he is ineligible as a candidate because of the 14th Amendment’s insurrectionist ban.

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The court’s 4-3 decision will be placed on hold pending an appeal until Jan. 4, 2024, The New York Times reported. State officials said the issue must be settled by Jan. 5, which is the deadline for Colorado to print its presidential primary ballots, according to The Denver Post. The Colorado primary is on March 5, 2024.

Trump’s campaign said he will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Times.

Tuesday’s ruling marked the first time a court has kept a presidential candidate off the ballot under an 1868 provision of the 14th Amendment, The Washington Post reported.

“We conclude that because President Trump is disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three (of the 14th Amendment), it would be a wrongful act under the Election Code for the Secretary to list President Trump as a candidate on the presidential primary ballot,” the court’s majority wrote in its opinion, according to The Denver Post. “Therefore, the Secretary may not list President Trump’s name on the 2024 presidential primary ballot, nor may she count any write-in votes cast for him.

“We do not reach these conclusions lightly. We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.”

The judges reversed a Denver district judge’s ruling last month that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- which disqualifies people who have engaged in insurrection against the government -- did not apply to the president, the Times reported. The judge found that Trump incited an insurrection for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, but added that he could not be left off the ballot because it was unclear whether the provision covered the presidency, according to The Associated Press.

The Trump campaign said it will “swiftly file an appeal,” CNN reported.

“The Colorado Supreme Court issued a completely flawed decision tonight and we will swiftly file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court and a concurrent request for a stay of this deeply undemocratic decision. We have full confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly rule in our favor and finally put an end to these unAmerican lawsuits,” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement.

“The Colorado Supreme Court issued a completely flawed decision tonight and we will swiftly file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court and a concurrent request for a stay of this deeply undemocratic decision,” Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement. “We have full confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly rule in our favor and finally put an end to these unAmerican lawsuits.”

Colorado’s Supreme Court is the first court to find that the disqualification clause applies to Trump, the Times reported. Similar lawsuits in Minnesota and New Hampshire were dismissed on procedural grounds, according to the newspaper.

A judge in Michigan ruled in November that the issue was political, and therefore not for him to decide. His decision was upheld by an appeals court; plaintiffs have appealed to that state’s Supreme Court, the Times reported.

Six Republican and independent voters from Colorado invoked the provision in a lawsuit this fall meant to keep Trump off the ballot in Colorado, The Washington Post reported.

After a weeklong trial, Denver District Judge Sarah B. Wallace ruled that Trump had engaged in insurrection but could remain on the ballot because she determined Section 3 does not apply to people running for president.

Trump lost Colorado by 13 percentage points in 2020, the AP reported. While he may not need the state to win the 2024 presidential election, the decision may spawn election officials and courts to follow Colorado’s lead, according to the news organization.

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