Colorado Supreme Court justices sound skeptical about push to kick Trump off ballot

December 7, 2023

While many polls show former President Donald Trump leading in the polls, some Colorado voters have asked their state Supreme Court to kick him off the ballot. Yet a new report suggests that the justices may vindicate Trump.

According to CBS News, the case hinges on Section 3 of the Constitution's 14th Amendment, which is known as the "Insurrection Clause."

Lawyers point to January 6

It states that someone who previously swore "to support the Constitution of the United States" is prohibited from holding office if he or she later "engaged in insurrection or rebellion."

Although the rule was passed after the Civil War and directed towards former Confederate leaders, a group of Colorado voters say it also applies to Trump. 

Eric Olson is a lawyer who represents the plaintiffs, and he maintained on Wednesday that the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill amounted to an insurrection. 

Justice questions whether secretary of state has authority to exclude Trump

However, questions asked by members of Colorado’s highest judicial body suggest that they are somewhat skeptical of Olson’s position.

Among them was Justice Monica Márquez, a Democratic appointee who wondered whether Colorado’s secretary of state has the legal authority to keep Trump off the ballot.

"The secretary's duties under the provisions that govern presidential primaries very clearly are limited to making sure that a presidential primary candidate is a bona fide candidate under party rules and has timely submitted a certificate of intent … that's it," she pointed out.

Fellow Democratic appointee Justice Melissa Hart observed that if Trump is removed then "the Republican or unaffiliated voter who wants to participate in the presidential Republican primary won't really be able to participate, because the person who's on most ballots and appears to be leading in the primary is not an option." 

Case would likely go to U.S. Supreme Court

Meanwhile, the Democratic appointee Justice William Hood pointed how even if he and his fellow justices were to side with Olsen's client, the matter would still be far from over.

He suggested that having different states adopt competing interpretations of Section 3 would necessitate a decision by the United States Supreme Court. 

"If we were to say that President Trump can't be on the ballot here, there's a very high probability that the United States Supreme Court would step in and decide what the standard should be, one would think, so there wouldn't be the same potential for the chaos," CBS News quoted Hood as saying.

A previous attempt to remove Trump from Colorado's ballot failed last month when U.S. District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace ruled against doing so. 

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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