Colorado’s Supreme Court concluded on Tuesday in a stunning ruling that former President Donald Trump’s candidacy in the state’s primary next year is unconstitutional.
The precedent-setting decision originates from a lawsuit that focused on a little-known provision in the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Similar efforts in other states have been unsuccessful.
“A majority of the court holds that President Trump is disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” the opinion by the Colorado Supreme Court stated. “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 clearly noted in its decision that Secretary of State Jena Griswold “may not list President Trump’s name on the 2024 presidential primary ballot, nor may she count any write-in votes cast for him.”
The court postponed its verdict until January 4 to allow for additional appeals. It also stated that if the case is brought before the United States Supreme Court before that date, the pause will stay in effect and Colorado will be required to include Trump’s name on the primary ballot pending Supreme Court action.
Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung slammed the verdict and hinted at an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
“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,” Cheung said in a press release.
“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,” he said in a statement.
The Republican presidential primary in Colorado is set for March 5.
Trump’s personal lawyer, Alina Habba, stated that the verdict “attacks the very heart of this nation’s democracy.” It cannot stand, and we are certain that the Supreme Court will overturn this illegal decision.”
Trump has dismissed efforts to keep him off the ballot as “nonsense” and “election interference.” But, during a campaign address in Iowa on Tuesday night, Trump made no mention of the Colorado judgment.
The Colorado courts stated in their 4-3 decision, “We do not reach these conclusions lightly.” We are cognizant of the gravity and weight of the issues before us. We are also conscious of our serious obligation to apply the law without fear or favor, and without being persuaded by public reaction to the decisions that the law requires us to make.”
“We are also cognizant that we travel in uncharted territory,” they went on to say.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and two law firms filed the claim on behalf of six Colorado voters. The group’s president, Noah Bookbinder, said the verdict was “not only historic and justified but also necessary to protect the future of democracy in our country.”
“Our Constitution clearly states that those who violate their oath by attacking our democracy are barred from serving in government,” he added in a written statement.
The verdict overturns a lower court ruling that said Trump incited a riot on Jan. 6, 2021, but that presidents are not accountable to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment because they are not “officers of the United States.”
The majority of the state Supreme Court agreed with lower court judge Sarah B. Wallace that Trump had participated in insurrection, but disputed her conclusion that he is not an officer of the country that elected him.
“Our independent review of the record in this case brings us to the same conclusion: President Trump incited and encouraged the use of violence and lawless action to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power,” the judge stated on Tuesday.
“The tenor of President Trump’s messages to his supporters in exhorting them to travel to Washington, D.C. on January 6 was obvious and unmistakable: the allegedly rigged election was an act of war and those victimized by it had an obligation to fight back and to fight aggressively,” the judge wrote in his ruling. “And President Trump’s supporters did not miss or misunderstand the message: the cavalry was coming to fight.”
In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Brian Boatright emphasized the former president’s lack of a criminal record.
“In the absence of an insurrection-related conviction, I would hold that a request under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to disqualify a candidate is not a proper cause of action under Colorado’s election code.” As a result, I would reject the claim at hand,” he added.
Section 3, The 14th Amendment, which was drafted during the Civil War, states “No person shall … hold any office, civil or military, under the United States … who, having previously taken an oath … as an officer of the United States, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Similar efforts to keep Trump off the ballot have been rejected by courts in Arizona, Michigan, and Minnesota. On Monday, the plaintiffs challenging Trump’s eligibility in Michigan filed an appeal with the state’s highest court.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel stated on Tuesday that the Republican Party will support Trump in his legal battle.
“This irresponsible ruling will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and our legal team looks forward to helping fight for a victory,” she said in a statement. “The Republican nominee will be decided by Republican voters, not a partisan state court.”
Meanwhile, the Colorado Republican Party began fundraising in response to the court’s decision in a post on X, asking supporters to help “keep Trump on the ballot and fight this election interference now.”