Trump disqualified from 2024 ballot, Colorado court rules in insurrection case

Ruling calls for exclusion of Trump from Republican primary ballot, not general election, but appeal to Supreme Court could force all 50 states to follow suit

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Colorado’s top court ruled on Tuesday that former President Donald J. Trump is disqualified from holding office again, because he engaged in insurrection with his actions leading up to the 6 January storming of the Capitol.

The Colorado Supreme Court was the first in the nation to find that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — which disqualifies people who engage in insurrection against the Constitution after taking an oath to support it — applies to Trump.

The ruling directs the Colorado secretary of state to exclude Trump’s name from the state’s Republican primary ballot. It does not address the general election.

Trump’s campaign said immediately that it would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. If Trump appeals before then, the hold will continue until the Supreme Court rules.

And while the ruling applies only to one state, it could all but force the nation’s highest court to decide the question for all 50.

If the justices take up the case, it will join a pile of other Trump-related matters they have agreed or are likely to decide, including whether he is immune from criminal prosecution for actions he took in office and the scope of an obstruction charge that is central to his federal Jan. 6 case.

The U.S. Supreme Court has a 6-to-3 conservative majority, with three justices appointed by Trump himself, and it is already under extraordinary political pressure and scrutiny both for its rulings and its justices’ ethics.

The Colorado court also affirmed a Denver district judge’s finding last month that Trump’s actions before and on Jan. 6, 2021, constituted engaging in insurrection, and that courts had the authority to enforce Section 3 against a person whom Congress had not specifically designated.

Judge Sarah B. Wallace, who made the district court ruling in Colorado, said that because Section 3 enumerates several offices but not the presidency, and because the presidential oath is worded differently from the oaths of the enumerated offices, she concluded that the broad phrase “officers of the United States” was not intended to include the presidency.

The Colorado Supreme Court disagreed. “We do not place the same weight the district court did on the fact that the presidency is not specifically mentioned in Section 3,” the majority wrote. “It seems most likely that the presidency is not specifically included because it is so evidently an ‘office.’”

Trump’s campaign denounced the ruling, by dubbing the justices as an “all-Democrat appointed Colorado Supreme Court” that had supported “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.”

Similar lawsuits in Minnesota and New Hampshire have been dismissed on procedural grounds.