May 19, 2024 7:19 pm

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Colorado court disqualifies Trump from ballot, US Supreme Court next

DENVER—In a 4-3 decision, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that former President Donald J Trump is disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This section of the constitution contains a “disqualification clause” that kept former Confederate officials from gaining power in government during the reconstruction period following the U.S. Civil War.

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dave Williams announced that the party will utilize a caucus system to circumvent the ruling to remove 2024 Presidential candidate Donald J Trump from the Primary GOP ballot.

“We are not going to allow our voters to be shortchanged by radical justices who think that they can decide which candidates have the ability to be voted for or against by the American public,” Williams said in an interview with CNN. “We will go to a straight caucus system where we will allocate our delegates according to the candidates that compete in our state.”

According to the majority’s decision —Justices Monica Marquez, William Hood III, Richard Gabriel, and Melissa Hart—the lower court “erred by concluding that Section Three [of the Fourteenth Amendment] does not apply to the President” and added that the conduct by the 45th President of the United States, Donald J Trump, during the January 6, 2021, constitutes an engagement of insurrection; hence disqualifying him for the office of President.

Because of their interpretation, the four justices state that according to Colorado Revised Statues 1-1-113, Trump’s name is not to appear on the ballot. In addition to not allowing the former President’s name on the Colorado ballot, the ruling also instructs the Secretary of State Jena Griswold to not tally any write-in votes casts for Trump.

“Accordingly, we conclude that because President Trump is disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three, it would be a wrongful act under the Election Code for the Secretary to list President Trump as a candidate on the presidential primary ballot. Therefore, the Secretary 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 ruling states.

In an action that could be interpreted that the court’s decision lacks substance, it agreed to stay its ruling until January 4, 2024—the day before the Secretary’s deadline to certify the content of the presidential primary ballot—leaving the president no choice but to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Donald J Trump
The 45th President of the United States, Donald J Trump.

“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,” Steven Cheung, Trump Campaign Spokesman released shortly after the ruling. “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.”

Trump-appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch will determine if the court is to hear President Trump’s appeal. The Colorado Supreme Court will extend its stay to implement its ruling only if the higher court agrees to review Trump’s appeal before January 4, 2024; hence allowing President Trump’s name to remain on the “2024 presidential primary ballot until the receipt of any order or mandate from the Supreme Court,” the ruling states.

Colorado Chief Justice Brian Boatright along with Justices Carlos Samour, and Maria Berkenkotter disagreed with their colleagues unprecedented decision. Each had issue with the majority’s interpretation and/or application of Colorado Revised Statues 1-1-113.

“Section 1-1-113 was not enacted to decide whether a candidate engaged in insurrection. In my view, this cause of action should have been dismissed,” Chief Justice Boatright wrote.

Justice Samour argued that without a conviction of insurrection against President Trump by the United States Senate, there is no claim to disqualify him under Section 1-1-113 of Colorado law.

“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,” Samour wrote. “Therefore, I would dismiss the claim at issue here.”

Although the 45th President of the United States, Donald J Trump, was formally impeached by the 117th Congress on January 13, 2021, for “high crimes and misdemeanors” related to the January 6th Capitol Breach, the Senate acquitted Trump of the impeachment charge on February 13, 2021.

According to Tracking Section 3 Trump Disqualification Challenges by Lawfare, there have been a total of 35 litigations to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot of which 16 are currently active—the remaining 19 have been dismissed or voluntarily dismissed. The Colorado case, Anderson et al v. Griswold et al, brought on behalf of six voters, marks the first victory, albeit a possible temporary victory, to remove the leading GOP Presidential Candidate from a state ballot.

Tuesday’s ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court comes on the heals of a nationwide Monmouth University poll released on Monday showing just 34% of Americans approve of President Joe Biden’s job performance—the lowest since taking office.

Trump ballot

The polling history shows that Biden has never truly recovered from his botch withdrawal of Afghanistan in August of 2021 that left 13 American military personnel dead.

In a head-to-head match, Biden is trailing former President Trump by 3 points in the aggregate of all nine General Election polling data. At this time in 2019, Biden lead Trump by 4.4 points and former Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton lead Trump by 6.6 points in 2015.

Trump ballot

The Hill reported on Saturday that this trend in Trump’s favor extended to key battleground states.

“Trump leads Biden in hypothetical match-ups both with and without third-party options on the ballot in states including Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, according to fresh polling. Biden carried each of those states in 2020, and Trump will need to flip at least a few of those states if he is to win in 2024.”

Currently, there is no litigation in Washington state to remove Trump from the ballot. One lawsuit brought by a private citizen was dismissed on procedural grounds. However, this doesn’t close the door to someone bringing this up in Washington courts again.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Article updated 10:19 a.m., December 20, 2023, adding the Colorado GOP response to the court ruling.

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