The Colorado Supreme Court bans Trump from voting in the state under the Constitution’s insurrection clause

(Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

The Colorado Supreme Court bans Trump from the state ballot under the Constitution’s insurrection clause


Dec. 19, 2023

The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday declared former President Trump ineligible for the White House under the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause and removed him from the state’s presidential primaries, setting up a likely showdown in the state’s highest court. country emerged to decide whether the frontrunner for the GOP nomination can remain in the race.

The decision by a court whose justices were all appointed by Democratic governors marks the first time in history that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate.

A majority of the court finds that Trump is disqualified from holding the office of president under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the court wrote in its 4-3 decision.

Colorado’s highest court overturned a ruling by a district court judge who found Trump incited an insurrection for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, but said he could not be barred from the vote because it was unclear was that the provision was intended to cover the presidency.

The court postponed its decision until January 4, or until the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the case.

We do not come to these conclusions lightly, the court majority wrote. We are aware of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are also aware of our sole obligation to apply the law, without fear or favour, and without being influenced by public reactions to the decisions that the law requires us to make.

Trump’s lawyers had vowed to immediately appeal any disqualification to the nation’s highest court, which has the final say on constitutional matters. His campaign said it was working on a response to the ruling.

Trump lost Colorado in 2020 by 13 percentage points and does not need the state to win next year’s presidential election. But the danger for the former president is that more courts and election officials will follow Colorado’s lead and exclude Trump from must-win states.

Colorado officials say the issue must be resolved by Jan. 5, the deadline for the state to push its presidential primaries.

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed nationally seeking to disqualify Trump under Section 3, which was intended to keep former Confederates from returning to government after the Civil War. It bars from office anyone who swore an oath to support the Constitution and then opposed or rebelled against it, and has been used only a handful of times since the decade after the Civil War.

The Colorado case is the first in which the plaintiffs have won. After a weeklong hearing in November, District Judge Sarah B. Wallace found that Trump had indeed engaged in an insurrection by inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and her ruling keeping him on the ballot was fairly technical.

Trump’s lawyers convinced Wallace that because the language in Section 3 refers to officials of the United States taking an oath to support the Constitution, it should not apply to the president, who is not listed as a public official elsewhere in the Constitution of the United States is included. document and whose oath it is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

The provision also says that offices include: senator, representative, electors of the president and vice president, and all others under the United States, but does not mention the presidency.

The state Supreme Court disagreed, siding with lawyers for six Colorado Republicans and unaffiliated voters who argued that it was foolish to think that the amendment’s drafters, fearing that former Confederates would again came to power, would exclude them from low-level positions, but not the highest in the country.

You’d say a rebel who took up arms against the government couldn’t be a county sheriff, but he could be the president, attorney Jason Murray said in a court filing in early December.


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