Court rejects effort to keep Trump off of 2024 ballots, but there is a catch

November 18, 2023

A Colorado judge has rejected an effort to keep former President Donald Trump off of the state's 2024 Republican primary ballots, the New York Times reports

The catch is that the judge - Judge Sarah B. Wallace - also found that Trump "engaged in insurrection" with regard to Jan. 6, 2021.

Read on to see why this could be important.

But, first, let's start with the bid to keep Trump off of the state's primary ballots, and why it failed.

The Fourteenth Amendment Section Three argument

Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, in relevant part, states:

No person shall . . . hold any office . . . under the United States . . . who, having previously taken an oath . . . to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same . . .

Around the country, various anti-Trump groups have been using the clause to argue that Trump ought to be disqualified from running for presidency in 2024. They claim that Trump, as president, took such an oath and that Trump "engaged in insurrection" with regard to the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

Wallace is now the first judge to reject this argument on the merits. Wallace did so, in part, because, in her opinion, presidential oaths do not count for the purposes of Section Three.

Wallace wrote:

[Because of] the absence of the president from the list of positions to which the amendment applies combined with the fact that Section 3 specifies that the disqualifying oath is one to "support" the Constitution whereas the presidential oath is to "preserve, protect, and defend," it appears to the court that for whatever reason the drafters of Section 3 did not intend to include a person who had only taken the presidential oath.

Wallace went on to write that she is reluctant "to embrace an interpretation which would disqualify a presidential candidate without a clear, unmistakable indication that such is the intent of Section 3."

"Engaged in insurrection"

It is worth noting that Wallace did not reject the argument because she found that Trump did not "engage in insurrection."

NPR reports:

In her decision, Wallace said she found that Trump did in fact "engage in insurrection" on Jan. 6 and rejected his attorneys' arguments that he was simply engaging in free speech. Normally, that would be enough to disqualify him under Section 3, but she said she couldn't do so for a presidential candidate.

So, in one sense, this decision is favorable for Trump, namely, in the sense that Wallace rejected the use of the Fourteenth Amendment to keep Trump off of Colorado ballots in 2024.

But, in another sense, it is an unfavorable decision for Trump, namely, in the sense that Wallace found that Trump did "engage in insurrection."

This, no doubt, will now be used against Trump by his political opponents as we draw nearer to 2024.

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