Trump appears to concede that Colorado 14th Amendment ballot challenge will stay in state court

 September 10, 2023

A Colorado lawsuit aiming to boot Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot in that state was the subject of a motion to remove the case to federal court last week, but as of Friday, lawyers for the former president appear to have conceded that the matter was, in fact, initiated in the correct jurisdiction, as NBC News reports.

This latest development may finally end the legal back-and-forth that took place last week between lawyers for the former president and those representing a group of voters asserting that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars Trump's appearance on the presidential ballot in 2024 and beyond.

Jurisdictional tussle

In the case at issue, the plaintiffs allege that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is sufficient to bar Trump from appearing on Colorado's presidential ballot, with the arguments similar to those that have also been lodged in jurisdictions including Michigan, Florida, New Hampshire, and Arizona.

That provision states that anyone who is found to have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States” or “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” are ineligible to hold public office.

As such, the litigants contend, Trump's conduct in the wake of the 2020 election and the unrest at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2020, is sufficient to trigger that ban.

The emphasis on the constitutional provision in the plaintiff's claims, however, prompted a battle of whether the proper venue for the case would be in state or federal court.

Trump's initial contention

On Thursday, Trump's legal team sought to have the case moved to federal court, writing, “This case arises under the 14th Amendment. Although Plaintiffs have drafted their Verified Petition in a manner that ostensibly relies on state claims, in fact every state claim – indeed every effort to bar Trump from running for president – relies solely on the application of the U.S. Const. 14th Amend, Sec. 3.”

Presumably, Trump's attorneys would prefer to see the case proceed in federal court, given that the former president would perhaps be able to avail himself of additional legal theories there that would not be present in state court.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold disagreed, stating through her office that state-level courts were in fact “well suited” to address claims stemming from the 14th Amendment and that her staff would be exploring legal options.

A motion filed Friday by those hoping to remove Trump from the ballot indicated that the Trump team had second thoughts about their ability to secure removal of the case to federal court and had abandoned their opposition to its potential return to state court.

“Political attack” alleged

Regardless of where this particular case moves forward, the growing number of similar initiatives in states across the country has been noteworthy, though a recent complaint brought forward in Florida was dismissed due a finding that the plaintiff lacked legal standing to pursue the remedy he sought.

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung has attacked the groundswell of these types of cases, as the Washington Examiner notes, saying, “the people who are pursuing this absurd conspiracy theory and political attack on President Trump are stretching the law beyond recognition,” and he added that there is “no legal basis for this effort except in the minds of those who are pushing it.”

The candidate himself has also began ramping up his own criticism of the line of attack, calling initiatives of his nature “nonsense” and blatant “election interference,” as NBC News noted.

Speaking to talk show host Dan Bongino last week, Trump declared, “This is like a banana republic,” and writing later on Truth Social, he stated that the entire attempt to use the 14th Amendment to sweep him off the political stage once and for all is simply “another 'trick' being used by the Radical Left Communists, Marxists, and Facists.”

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