Colorado Supreme Court blocks Trump from 2024 ballot in historic insurrection ruling

By: - December 19, 2023 6:43 pm

Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright, front, questions an attorney as Justice William W. Hood, III, looks on during a hearing before the court on Dec. 6, 2023, in Denver. Oral arguments before the court were held after both sides appealed a ruling by a Denver district judge on whether to allow former President Donald Trump to be included on Colorado’s presidential ballot. (AP, pool/David Zalubowski)

The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered former President Donald Trump to be barred from the state’s 2024 presidential ballot under a Civil War-era insurrection clause, in a historic ruling certain to be promptly appealed to the nation’s highest court.

Six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters, backed by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a lawsuit in September alleging that Trump’s actions in relation to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol disqualify him from office under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Section 3 of the amendment, ratified in 1868 and enforced in only a handful of cases in the last 150 years, prohibits a person who “engaged in insurrection” after taking an oath to support the Constitution from holding office again.

“A majority of the court holds that President Trump is disqualified from holding the office of President under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the court wrote in its ruling. “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 state Supreme Court’s decision, which followed a flurry of amicus briefs and oral arguments before the justices earlier this month, overturned a Nov. 17 ruling by Denver District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace, who rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments and ordered Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold to place Trump on the ballot.

Similar challenges in several other states, including Minnesota and Michigan, have been rejected by the courts. But Colorado was singled out by CREW as a “good venue” for a 14th Amendment case because of provisions in its election code requiring only candidates who are eligible to assume office to be placed on the ballot.

Griswold, a Democrat and outspoken Trump critic, has declined to take a position on the former president’s ballot eligibility, and her office has held off on certifying his candidacy “pending a determination from the courts.”

Trump was indicted earlier this year by federal prosecutors who allege that his “pervasive and destabilizing lies” about the results of the 2020 election “targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government.” Since announcing that he would seek the presidency again in 2024, he has maintained a substantial polling lead over his rivals for the GOP nomination.

Colorado’s 2024 presidential primary is scheduled for “Super Tuesday,” March 5. The secretary of state’s office must certify the primary ballot by Jan. 5.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

This story is republished from Colorado Newsline, a sister publication of Kentucky Lantern and part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and donors as a 501c(3) public charity. 

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Chase Woodruff
Chase Woodruff

Chase Woodruff is a senior reporter for Colorado Newsline. His beats include the environment, money in politics, and the economy.