Trump Barred from Ballot? Colorado Supreme Court Makes Shocking Decision

Trump Barred from Ballot? Colorado Supreme Court Makes Shocking Decision

In an unprecedented move, the Colorado Supreme Court made a historic decision on Tuesday, ordering the removal of Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot. The court cited constitutional ineligibility due to the serious allegations surrounding Trump’s involvement in the insurrection on January 6, 2021.

Trump’s campaign quickly responded, announcing their intention to appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This unsigned opinion, dated December 19, marked the first time any state supreme court directly addressed the eligibility of a presidential candidate, particularly considering the allegations against Trump. The court emphasized the gravity of the situation and their duty to apply the law impartially, regardless of public sentiment.

The four-justice majority stated, “We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” acknowledging the weight of the questions before them. They expressed little difficulty in determining there was sufficient evidence to classify the events of January 6 as an insurrection. Moreover, they asserted a direct link between Trump’s actions and the insurrection, specifically in attempting to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

While the majority ruled decisively, three justices dissented: Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright and Justices Carlos A. Samour Jr. and Maria E. Berkenkotter. Their dissent focused on procedural issues related to the eligibility challenge, but they did not contest the substantive findings regarding Trump’s actions being insurrectionist and disqualifying.

To allow for a potential appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Colorado Supreme Court temporarily placed its ruling on hold. Trump’s campaign now faces the legal challenge at the highest level, setting the stage for a critical legal battle over his eligibility for the 2024 presidential ballot.

The legal battle over Trump’s eligibility reached a significant milestone with the first decision on the merits. Since its filing in September, the challenge has swiftly moved through the courts, fueled by a tight deadline of January 5, 2024, for Secretary of State Jena Griswold to certify candidates for the upcoming primary.

Initiated by four Republican and two unaffiliated voters, the case argues that Trump, under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment enacted after the Civil War, is disqualified from holding the presidency again. This section specifically prohibits individuals who took an oath to support the Constitution and subsequently “engaged in insurrection” from holding federal or state office.

Attorney Scott Gessler argues before the Colorado Supreme Court on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Denver. The 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 the state’s general election ballot.David Zalubowski – pool, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Previous courts have skirted the core question, dismissing challenges without delving into the merits. However, Denver District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace took a different approach, issuing a detailed order that declared Trump engaged in insurrection by inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Importantly, she asserted that Colorado courts have the authority to adjudicate presidential qualifications.

Despite this finding, Judge Wallace opted not to disqualify Trump from the ballot. Following a five-day hearing that included extensive historical evidence, she remained unconvinced that Section 3 was intended to apply to the presidency.

The case then advanced to the Colorado Supreme Court, as both the petitioners and Trump appealed. Notably, Secretary of State Griswold, a Democrat, did not formally express a position on Trump’s eligibility.

During oral arguments, Eric Olson, an attorney for the petitioners, emphasized the potential consequences of ruling in Trump’s favor, stating, “If we say that this conduct by this person is not enough under the Constitution, what we do is empower Trump and others to use more political violence to attack our democracy.”

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Carlos Samour, Jr., left, asks a question during oral arguments before the court on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Denver. Looking on are justices Richard L. Gabriel, second from left, Monica M. Marquez, third from left, and Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright. Colorado Supreme Court justices have sharply questioned whether they could exclude former President Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 ballot.David Zalubowski – pool, ASSOCIATED PRESS

As the legal proceedings unfold, the implications for Trump’s eligibility for the 2024 presidential ballot remain uncertain, adding further complexity to an already contentious political landscape.

The majority opinion of the court robustly dismissed Trump’s assertion that he couldn’t adequately address the petitioners’ claims due to the expedited nature of election proceedings. Additionally, it clarified that Colorado’s election laws, distinct from those of other states, encompass challenges to candidates’ eligibility, including constitutional concerns such as age or citizenship.

An essential aspect of the majority’s stance was the assertion that Congress wasn’t obligated to pass specific legislation to enforce the disqualification provision. Drawing parallels to the 13th Amendment’s prohibition against slavery, the majority argued that inaction by Congress would perpetuate legalized slavery and compromise the rights of Black citizens, potentially leading to the disenfranchisement of non-white male voters. Importantly, the majority emphasized that individuals engaged in insurrection could still serve in the government without legislative action.

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica M. Marquez questions an attorney as Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright, back, looks on during a hearing before the court on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Denver. The 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 the state’s general election ballot.David Zalubowski – staff, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Challenging Judge Wallace’s conclusion that the presidency fell outside the scope of Section 3’s disqualification provision, the majority firmly asserted that the presidency was unquestionably an “office.” This assertion was grounded in both the plain meaning of the words and the understanding of the 19th-century drafters.

In essence, the majority’s opinion underscores the court’s authority to address challenges to candidates’ eligibility, particularly in cases involving serious constitutional considerations. The decision highlights the court’s commitment to upholding the integrity of the electoral process and preventing individuals engaged in insurrection from holding public office. The legal landscape surrounding Trump’s eligibility for the 2024 presidential ballot continues to evolve, with the majority opinion setting a precedent for the court’s proactive role in barring insurrectionists from seeking political office.

In a decisive stance, the majority rejected President Trump’s plea, asserting that Section Three disqualifies every oath-breaking insurrectionist, including the most powerful one, and that it prohibits oath-breakers from holding virtually every office, except the highest one in the land. The majority adamantly contended that both of these outcomes were inconsistent with the plain language and historical context of Section Three.

Importantly, the majority’s conclusion was grounded in a thorough examination of the evidence, leading them to assert that Trump had a clear intention to support the effort to overturn the election certification and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. In aligning with existing U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the majority held that Trump’s calls to action to his supporters were not protected by the First Amendment.

This decision by the majority further solidifies their position on the applicability of Section Three and its implications for Trump’s eligibility for public office. The rejection of Trump’s arguments underscores the court’s commitment to interpreting the law based on its historical context and plain language, establishing a precedent that may have broader implications for cases involving insurrectionist conduct and constitutional eligibility. As the legal proceedings unfold, the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision marks a critical juncture in the ongoing debate over the former president’s role in the events of January 6, 2021, and his future political prospects.

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Ingrid Mueller

Ingrid Mueller, a literary expert with a Ph.D. in Literature from Yale University, brings a touch of artistry to her writing. Her critical analyses and cultural insights provide a fresh perspective on trending news. Ingrid's articles are a treat for those seeking a deeper understanding of the world around them. Explore the trends through her unique lens.

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