Trump takes steps to move Colorado ballot challenge case to federal court

September 10, 2023

As challenges to his appearance on the presidential ballot in various jurisdictions continue to mount, former President Donald Trump has just succeeded in filing a motion to remove one such case – originating in Colorado – to federal court, as the Associated Press reports.

Though the plaintiffs in the case, liberal advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), sought to have the case heard in Colorado state court, Trump's attorneys on Thursday filed a notice of removal to federal court on the grounds that the claims in the case center solely on the U.S. Constitution, as ABC News explains.

14th Amendment battle

The suit in Colorado is similar to efforts brought in other states, including New Hampshire, Michigan, Arizona, and Florida

At the heart of the controversy is the argument that Section 3 of the 14 Amendment, which provides that individuals who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States or had “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” are ineligible to hold public office.

That bar, according to the cited clause, can only be overridden by a two-thirds vote in Congress.

According to plaintiffs in this and similar lawsuits, Trump's conduct in the wake of the 2020 election in which he sought to question the integrity of the vote is sufficient to trigger the 14th Amendment and prevent his placement on the ballot in 2024.

Notice filed

The former president's team's notice of removal declared, “There is an urgent public interest in promptly resolving whether Trump is constitutionally eligible to serve as president in advance of the approaching primary election.”

The Trump team's request to remove the case to federal court was, as is standard practice under such circumstances, automatically granted.

In response, the office of Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said that state-level courts were “well suited” to address the 14th Amendment-related claims and that her staff is currently in the process of “exploring legal options.”

CREW, for its part, indicated its imminent plan to “soon” file a motion that it said would force a decision from the courts on the proper venue for this matter.

Disqualification efforts grow

With initiatives of the sort launched in Colorado began popping up in other parts of the country, defenders of Trump remain vehement in their position that there is no valid legal basis for the contention that the 14th Amendment bars the current GOP primary frontrunner from seeking office anew. A case brought in Florida seeking such an outcome was recently dismissed due to the plaintiff's lack of standing, as Newsmax noted.

Notably, CREW did succeed last year in ousting from office a county commissioner in New Mexico who was convicted of a misdemeanor over actions taken at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

A group called Free Speech for People has, according to the Washington Examiner, sent communications to election chiefs in nine states seeking Trump's exclusion from their ballots, which will start to be finalized as the next year progresses.

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung believes that despite the apparent groundswell of such cases in certain parts of the country, “the people who are pursuing this absurd conspiracy theory and political attack on President Trump are stretching the law beyond recognition...” and that there is “no legal basis for this effort except in the minds of those who are pushing it.” Whether the courts concur with his take, however, is something that remains to be seen.

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