The Colorado Supreme Court Removes Donald Trump from the 2024 Primary Ballot.
On December 19, the Colorado Supreme Court declared that they will be removing former President Donald Trump from the Republican primary ballot. As Trump has been under scrutiny for inciting the insurrection of the United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021, the Colorado Supreme Court argues that they are allowed to remove Trump from the ballot due to a clause in the 14th amendment of the United States Constitution. Section 3 of the 14th amendment states that no person can, “…hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same….” Since the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump engaged in an insurrection, he can be barred from the presidency as outlined by this clause
“We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.” the majority party of the Colorado Supreme Court stated. The court agreed that the removal of the former president from the ballot will not be final until January 4, 2024. There are many concerns about the legitimacy of this decision, including whether the outdated nature of the amendment included the office of President.
This controversial decision is expected to go to the Supreme Court very soon, and will need to be ruled on quickly, as the deadline for ballot certification in Colorado is January 5th. The Republican Party of Colorado appealed the case, arguing that removing the former President from the primary ballot is an infringement on American democracy and gives Trump an unfair disadvantage. Trump’s attorneys argued that the decision sets a dangerous precedent going forward, and is harmful to the democratic election process.
“Unless the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision is overturned, any voter will have the power to sue to disqualify any political candidate, in Colorado or in any other jurisdiction that follows its lead. This will not only distort the 2024 presidential election but will also mire courts henceforth in political controversies over nebulous accusations of insurrection,” said Trump’s attorneys.
The Republican Party of Colorado has appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, and Trump is expected to do the same soon. The Colorado Secretary of State, Jena Griswold, announced that she will follow the decision of the Supreme Court and will be including Trump on the primary ballot unless the Supreme Court rules in favor of removal. If the Supreme Court decides to not take the case, however, Trump will be removed from the ballot. This will be the first time that the United States Supreme Court will be hearing a case related to Section 3 of the 14th amendment.
One other state has followed in the footsteps of Colorado so far, and more may follow. On December 28, 2023, Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows announced that she would be removing Trump from the primary ballots in Maine, a decision that Trump’s campaign has appealed to the Maine Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court of the United States rules in favor of the Colorado Supreme Court, many other states will likely be inspired to consider removing Trump from their ballots. This is likely going to spark a lot of debate over the validity of the 14th amendment as well as how much power states are able to have over national elections.
Ten months from now, U.S. voters will elect a president again, but before they head to the polls, the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming weeks could play a pivotal role in the political fate of the leading Republican candidate, former President Donald Trump.
Three-plus years after losing his reelection bid, Trump faces a set of obstacles to reclaiming the White House, all of which the country’s nine-member highest court could weigh in on, to Trump’s detriment or benefit.
He is claiming immunity from prosecution on an unprecedented four criminal indictments encompassing 91 charges for which he could stand trial in the coming months.
He is also fighting decisions by two states to keep him off 2024 Republican presidential primary election ballots for his role in allegedly inciting an insurrection by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, as they unsuccessfully tried to keep Congress from certifying that Joe Biden had defeated him in the presidential election.
Currently, the Supreme Court is not set to consider Trump’s challenges to rulings against him, but that could quickly change as lower courts hear the cases, with Trump, government prosecutors and others certain to appeal any adverse rulings against them to the Supreme Court.
The high court has already agreed to review the case of a police officer charged with obstructing an official proceeding of Congress — the certification of Biden’s victory in the Electoral College — that also could affect Trump. The policeman contends that prosecutors wrongly used a corporate fraud statute usually reserved for people who tamper with documents and evidence.
Prosecutors have deployed the law in charging more than 300 other Capitol rioters, and it forms the basis of two charges against Trump in a Washington case brought by special counsel Jack Smith accusing Trump of illegally scheming to upend his 2020 election loss to Biden, his Democratic opponent.
The court will hear the policeman’s case in its current term and could announce its ruling sometime in June, well after the scheduled March 4 start of the Washington election fraud case.
More broadly, Trump is making the bold claim that he has absolute immunity from prosecution because any election-related actions he took occurred while he was still president in late 2020 and early 2021. It is the time frame in which prosecutors allege he plotted with key associates to illegally undermine the will of the majority who favored Biden in several key political battleground states so he could overturn the vote in those states to stay in power for another four years.
In the U.S., presidents are not elected by the national popular vote, which Biden won by 7 million votes in 2020. Rather, U.S. presidents, and their vice-presidential running mates, are elected through balloting in 50 state-by-state elections, with the most populous states holding the most electoral votes in the Electoral College.
About 2,000 Trump supporters delayed the eventual congressional certification of Biden’s victory in the Electoral College vote count three years ago when they stormed into the Capitol, fighting with police and ransacking some congressional offices.
Special counsel Smith is arguing that no one is above the law and immune from prosecution — not even a former president like Trump, the first ever U.S. leader charged with criminal offenses. U.S. Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the election fraud case, agreed with the prosecutor, ruling that Trump is not entitled to a “get-out-of-jail-free pass.”
Also at issue is Trump’s claim that he can’t be prosecuted for any role in the January 6 rioting at the Capitol because the House of Representatives impeached him for his actions before his presidential term ended although the Senate later acquitted him in early 2021 after he had left office. Trump broadly contends that he can’t be prosecuted criminally now in connection with the January 6 mayhem because the Senate has already cleared him in a political proceeding.
Smith asked the Supreme Court to fast-track a decision on Trump’s immunity-from-prosecution claim, but the justices refused, returning the case to a federal appellate court in Washington. The appeals court has scheduled a hearing on the dispute on January 9 and could rule relatively soon thereafter, setting up the likelihood of a prompt appeal to the Supreme Court by the losing side.
The Supreme Court could then let the appellate ruling stand or decide to hear legal arguments in the case and issue its own ruling, perhaps, but not for certain, in time to allow the election fraud trial to start in March.
The Supreme Court includes three justices appointed by Trump but in earlier 2020 election-related cases it has ruled against the former president.
The court is likely to face a new case directly related to the 2024 election after the Colorado Supreme Court in the western U.S. ruled Trump off the Republican primary election ballot in the state because of a U.S. constitutional provision prohibiting anyone from holding public office who engaged in an insurrection to overthrow the government.
Some activist groups and Trump critics have accused Trump of being an insurrectionist by urging supporters to “fight like hell” to block the congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory. With the same reasoning as in Colorado, an elections official in the northeastern state of Maine also threw Trump off the ballot there.
With appeals already underway, the Supreme Court might have to make a quick nationwide ruling about Trump’s election eligibility. The first presidential party balloting starts with caucuses in the Midwestern state of Iowa on January 15, with primary elections scheduled throughout the country in the weeks that follow.
“We have full confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly rule in our favor and finally put an end to these un-American lawsuits,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said.
Trump has denounced the prosecutions against him, calling Smith deranged, and saying the allegations amount to a “political witch hunt” by the Biden White House to keep him from winning the presidency again. Trump has denied all wrongdoing.
Smith, the Justice Department prosecutor, has also accused Trump of mishandling classified U.S. national security documents by hoarding them at his Mar-a-Lago oceanside estate in the southern state of Florida after he left the White House.
A state prosecutor in the southern state of Georgia has accused him of 2020 election fraud in that state and a New York prosecutor has accused him of falsifying business records at his family’s real estate conglomerate to hide hush money payments to a porn film star ahead of his successful 2016 run for the presidency.