Colorado judge rejects bid to block Trump from primary ballots

Colorado judge rejects bid to block Trump from primary ballots

Former President Donald Trump can appear on primary ballots in Colorado, a judge ruled Friday, rejecting a claim that the 2024 Republican front-runner should be barred for violating the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause.

District Judge Sarah Wallace’s ruling mirrors recent decisions in Minnesota and Michigan, where courts have dismissed lawsuits arguing Trump is ineligible to appear on 2024 ballots because of his actions leading up to and during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol. 

Wallace agreed with petitioners that Trump “engaged in an insurrection on January 6, 2021 through incitement,” citing the “significant history of Trump’s relationship with political violence and the noted escalation in Trump’s rhetoric in the lead up to, and on, January 6, 2021.”

However, the judge ruled that the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause – found in section three – does not apply to presidents. 

“While the Court agrees that there are persuasive arguments on both sides, the Court holds that the absence of the President from the list of positions to which the Amendment applies combined with the fact that Section Three specifies that the disqualifying oath is one to ‘support’ the Constitution whereas the Presidential oath is to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution, it appears to the Court that for whatever reason the drafters of Section Three did not intend to include a person who had only taken the Presidential Oath,” Wallace wrote in a 102-page opinion. 

Judge Wallace ruled the 14th Amendment’s Insurrection Clause does not apply to presidents, allowing Trump to remain on the state’s ballots.
GC Images

“To be clear, part of the Court’s decision is its reluctance to embrace an interpretation which would disqualify a presidential candidate without a clear, unmistakable indication that such is the intent of Section Three,” she added. 

The 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause bars any person who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution from holding federal or state office.

Judge Wallace presides over the final day of hearings for the lawsuit in Denver, CO on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023.
AP
Witness Thomas Van Flein, bottom right screen, shares a screen with Judge Sarah B. Wallace and a file photo of Trump from Jan. 6, 2021, as part of the lawsuit hearings on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023.
AP

The seldom-used clause was included in the post-Civil War 14th Amendment as a means to prevent former Confederate officials from becoming elected officials and taking over state governments and the federal government. 

The complaint was filed on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters represented by liberal nonprofit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and two other law firms.

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