Colorado Supreme Court bars Donald Trump from state ballot

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In a landmark decision, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that former President Donald Trump is ineligible to appear on the state’s ballot for the next presidential election. This judgment, stemming from Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, marks a first in American history.
The ruling, which is likely to be appealed to the US Supreme Court, makes Trump the first presidential candidate in US history to be disqualified under a provision of the 14th Amendment that bars officials who have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding office.
The decision is a victory for advocacy groups and anti-Trump voters who have mounted similar legal challenges in other states.
Why it matters

  • The ruling could have significant implications for the 2024 presidential race, as Trump remains the frontrunner for the Republican nomination and has not ruled out another run.
  • If the ruling is upheld by the US Supreme Court, Trump would be barred from appearing on the ballot in Colorado, a state that Biden won by more than 13 points in 2020.
  • The ruling could also set a precedent for other states to follow suit, potentially limiting Trump’s electoral prospects and creating a legal headache for the Republican Party.
  • The ruling could also spark a backlash from Trump’s loyal base, who may view the decision as an attempt to silence their voice and overturn the will of millions of voters.

The big picture

  • The case was brought by a group of Colorado voters, aided by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), who argued that Trump should be disqualified for inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol in a failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.
  • The Colorado Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, agreed with the plaintiffs and found that Trump violated section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which states that no person who has engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the US or given aid or comfort to its enemies shall hold any office under the US.
  • “A majority of the court holds that President Trump is disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the court wrote.
  • “Because he is disqualified, it would be a wrongful act under the Election Code for the Colorado Secretary of State to list him as a candidate on the presidential primary ballot.”
  • The court concluded that Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021, amounted to an insurrection or rebellion against the US, as he encouraged his supporters to “fight like hell” and “stop the steal” of the election, which resulted in a violent mob storming the Capitol and disrupting the certification of Biden’s victory.
  • The court rejected Trump’s arguments that he was not an “officer of the United States” who could be disqualified under the amendment, and that his speech was protected by the First Amendment.
  • The court also rejected the argument that a lawsuit was not a proper way to determine Trump’s eligibility, and that only a conviction by a jury or a vote by Congress could disqualify him.
  • The court said the ruling is stayed until Jan. 4, 2024, to allow for appeals.

What they’re saying

  • Trump’s campaign called the court decision “flawed” and “undemocratic,” and said it would be appealed to the US Supreme Court.
  • “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,” a spokesperson from the Trump campaign said.
  • CREW President Noah Bookbinder said in a statement that the court’s decision is “not only historic and justified, but is necessary to protect the future of democracy in our country.”
  • “Donald Trump’s actions on January 6th were a direct attack on our democracy and our Constitution, and he must be held accountable for them,” Bookbinder said.
  • “The Colorado Supreme Court has made clear that no one is above the law, and that those who seek to undermine our government cannot seek to lead it.”

What’s next

  • The ruling is expected to face a legal challenge from Trump’s campaign, which will likely seek to have it overturned by the US Supreme Court.
  • The US Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the constitutionality of section 3 of the 14th Amendment, or whether it applies to former presidents who have engaged in insurrection or rebellion.
  • The court could decide to take up the case, or let the lower court ruling stand.
  • The court could also issue a stay of the ruling, pending further review, which would allow Trump to appear on the ballot in Colorado until the case is resolved.

(With inputs from agencies)



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