Trump Is Ineligible For Office Under 14th Amendment’s Insurrectionist Ban, Colorado Supreme Court Rules

In a remarkable and unprecedented move, the Colorado Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to exclude former President Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 ballot, citing his ineligibility under the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban.”

The 4-3 ruling will be temporarily suspended until January 4, pending Trump’s appeal to the US Supreme Court, which has the potential to settle the matter nationwide.

While the state Supreme Court’s decision is specific to Colorado, its historic nature is bound to disrupt the 2024 presidential campaign. Colorado election officials insist on a resolution by January 5, the statutory deadline to finalize the list of candidates for the GOP primary scheduled for March 5.

According to the majority’s unsigned opinion, “President Trump did not merely incite the insurrection.” The court contended that, even during the Capitol siege, Trump continued to endorse it by urging Vice President Mike Pence to shirk his constitutional duty and by calling Senators to dissuade them from counting electoral votes. The court asserted that these actions amounted to direct and voluntary participation in the insurrection.

The opinion stated, “We conclude that the presented evidence, much of which was uncontested during the trial, established that President Trump engaged in insurrection.” It emphasized Trump’s explicit and repeated efforts over several months, encouraging his supporters to march to the Capitol under the pretense of alleged electoral fraud, as overt and voluntary acts.

Furthermore, the court dismissed Trump’s claims of free speech protection, asserting that “President Trump’s speech on January 6 was not shielded by the First Amendment.”

The 14th Amendment, ratified in the aftermath of the Civil War, prohibits individuals who have taken an oath to support the Constitution from holding future office if they have “engaged in insurrection.” Despite its application being rare, the amendment’s ambiguous language, which doesn’t explicitly reference the presidency, has only been invoked twice since 1919.

Notably, all seven justices serving on the Colorado Supreme Court were appointed by Democratic governors. Six of them subsequently secured statewide retention elections to continue serving on the bench, while the seventh, appointed in 2021, is yet to face voters.

Trump Campaign Vows To ‘Swiftly’ Appeal:

On Tuesday, the Trump campaign announced its intention to “promptly appeal” the decision of the Colorado Supreme Court.

In a statement, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung criticized the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision as “completely flawed” and stated, “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.”

Sources revealed that allies of the former president were taken aback by the Colorado high court’s ruling, which removed Trump from the state’s 2024 ballot, as reported by CNN.

Despite the trial judge’s prior conclusion that the insurrectionist ban did not apply to the presidency, Trump’s campaign asserted its readiness for any outcome. The campaign highlighted its quick response in releasing a statement. Meanwhile, the former president’s team remained optimistic, expressing confidence that higher courts would ultimately rule in their favor.

Following the ruling, Donald Trump, the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, garnered support from members of Congress and at least one other GOP presidential hopeful.

House Speaker Mike Johnson criticized the state court’s decision, labeling it as “reckless” in a statement.

“Today’s ruling attempting to disqualify President Trump from the Colorado ballot is nothing but a thinly veiled partisan attack. Regardless of political affiliation, every citizen registered to vote should not be denied the right to support our former president and the individual who is the leader in every poll of the Republican primary,” said Johnson, a longstanding Trump ally who has endorsed the former president’s 2024 bid. He added, “We trust the U.S. Supreme Court will set aside this reckless decision and let the American people decide the next President of the United States.”

On the other hand, GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy deemed the decision an “actual attack on democracy” and labeled it as “election interference.” He pledged to withdraw from the Colorado GOP primary unless Trump is permitted on the ballot.

“Having tried every trick in the book to eliminate President Trump from running in this election, the bipartisan Establishment is now deploying a new tactic to bar him from ever holding office again: the 14th Amendment,” Ramaswamy posted on X.

Swiftly responding to the decision, the Trump campaign dispatched a fundraising email to its supporters, characterizing the ruling as election interference and urging donations to “join the fight.”

Donald Trump vehemently denies any wrongdoing related to the events of January 6 and has condemned the 14th Amendment lawsuits as an abuse of the legal process. Currently facing federal and state indictments in connection with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Trump has entered a plea of not guilty.

This ruling coincides with a similar appeal awaiting resolution in Michigan, where Trump emerged victorious. While successfully fending off 14th Amendment challenges in several crucial states, Trump’s opponents have vowed to persist in legal battles, potentially even beyond the 2024 presidential election, should he emerge victorious.

Key Discoveries:

The court delivered a comprehensive decision that included several pivotal findings:

  • Colorado state law enables voters to contest Trump’s eligibility based on the federal constitution’s “insurrectionist ban.”
  • Colorado courts possess the authority to enforce the ban independently, without congressional intervention.
  • The insurrectionist ban applies to the presidency.
  • The events of January 6, 2021, at the US Capitol are deemed an insurrection.
  • Trump was found to have actively participated in the insurrection.
  • Trump’s speech on January 6, which was perceived as incitement, is stated to be “not protected by the First Amendment.”

Chief Justice Brian Boatright, one of the three dissenting members among the seven on the court, expressed his belief that Colorado election law “was not enacted to determine whether a candidate engaged in insurrection.” He stated that he would have dismissed the challenge to Trump’s eligibility.

“In the absence of an insurrection-related conviction, I would hold that a request to disqualify a candidate under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment is not a proper cause of action under Colorado’s election code,” he wrote.

A coalition of Republican and independent voters, working in conjunction with the liberal government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, initiated the lawsuit. Following a weeklong trial, a district judge issued a striking ruling in November, branding Trump as an insurrectionist but contending that the presidency is exempt from the ambiguous ban in the 14th Amendment.

The Colorado Supreme Court conducted oral arguments earlier this month, during which the justices displayed occasional divisions. Some of their inquiries suggested an openness to the idea that the ban is applicable to Trump, while at other moments, some justices expressed uncertainty about the trial court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter.

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