Former President Donald Trump can’t appear on the ballot in Colorado in the 2024 presidential election because of his alleged role in the January 6, 2021, protest at the U.S. Capitol by his supporters, ruled the top court in the state Tuesday, in a historic judgment likely to find its way to the United States Supreme Court.
The Colorado high court’s 4-3 ruling makes the former president the first presidential candidate in U.S. history to be ruled ineligible for the White House under a provision in the U.S. Constitution that is rarely used that blocks officials who have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding elected office.
The ruling provoked a harshly worded attack from the Trump 2024 campaign, saying, “Unsurprisingly, the all-Democrat appointed Colorado Supreme Court has ruled against President Trump, supporting a Soros-funded, left-wing group’s scheme to interfere in an election on behalf of Crooked Joe Biden by removing President Trump’s name from the ballot and eliminating the rights of Colorado voters to vote for the candidate of their choice.”
The court concludes that the Constitution of the U.S. bars the Republican frontrunner nominee in 2024 from appearing on the ballot because of his role in instigating violence against the government of the United States.
“We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” wrote the majority justices. “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 Colorado court said the ruling is considered stayed until January 4, 2024, to allow time for appeals.
One of the justices who dissented, Carlos Samour, said in a lengthy opinion that a lawsuit isn’t a fair mechanism for determining the eligibility of Trump for the ballot because it deprives him of his right to due process, noting a jury has not convicted him of insurrection.
“Even if we are convinced that a candidate committed horrible acts in the past — dare I say, engaged in insurrection — there must be procedural due process before we can declare that individual disqualified from holding public office,” said Samour.
However, the ruling applies only to the state’s March 5 GOP primary, but its conclusion would likely additionally affect Trump’s status for the November 5 general election. Nonpartisan forecasters of the U.S. election view Colorado as a safely Democratic state, meaning President Joe Biden is likely to carry the state regardless of Trump’s fate.
The case was brought to the court by a group of Colorado voters, aided by Washington’s Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics group, who argued the former president should be disqualified for allegedly inciting his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol in a failed attempt to obstruct the transfer presidential power to now-President Joe Biden following the 2020 election.
Trump’s campaign vows to quickly appeal the ruling
In its statement, Trump’s campaign vowed a rapid appeal to the United States Supreme Court and expressed optimism it would quickly rule against an “un-American lawsuit.”
“Democrat Party leaders are in a state of paranoia over the growing, dominant lead President Trump has amassed in the polls. They have lost faith in the failed Biden presidency and are now doing everything they can to stop the American voters from throwing them out of office next November. The Colorado Supreme Court issued a flawed decision tonight. 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 un-American lawsuits,” said the campaign.
Advocacy groups consider the decision a victory, and anti-Trump voters have mounted several similar legal challenges to the candidacy of former President Trump under section 3 of the 14th Amendment, enacted during the Civil War.
The decision reverses a ruling made by a judge in a lower court who found the former president engaged in insurrection by inciting his supporters to violence, but, as president, Trump wasn’t an “officer of the United States” who, under the amendment, could be disqualified.
An attorney for Trump argued that the protest at the Capitol was not severe enough to qualify as an insurrection and that the former president’s remarks to his supporters in Washington that day were protected by his right to free speech. The lawyer contended that courts don’t have the authority to remove Trump from the ballot.
Advocates hoped to use the case to promote a more comprehensive effort for disqualification and put the issue in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The highest court’s conservative majority of 6-3 includes three appointees of Trump.“The court’s decision today affirms what our clients alleged in this lawsuit: that Donald Trump is an insurrectionist who disqualified himself from office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment based on his role in the January 6th attack on the Capitol, and that Secretary Griswold must keep him off of Colorado’s primary ballot. It is not only historic and justified, but is necessary to protect the future of democracy in our country,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder said.