Trump barred from Colorado primary ballot due to role in US Capitol attack

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump attends a rally in Reno, Nevada, U.S. December 17, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

The Colorado Supreme Court declared on Tuesday that Former President Donald Trump is ineligible to serve as U.S. president and cannot be included on the primary ballot in Colorado due to his involvement in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters. This groundbreaking 4-3 ruling, likely to be contested in the U.S. Supreme Court, marks Trump as the first presidential candidate disqualified for the White House under a seldom-invoked constitutional provision barring officials who have participated in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding office.

While the ruling specifically impacts Colorado’s March 5 Republican primary, its implications may extend to the November 5 general election. Despite being considered a safely Democratic state by nonpartisan U.S. election forecasters, the outcome could influence Trump’s standing in Colorado.

Trump intends to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Colorado court has postponed the decision’s impact until at least January 4, 2024, to allow for the appeal process. This ruling sets the stage for the Supreme Court, with its 6-3 conservative majority, to deliberate on Trump’s eligibility for another presidential term.

The lawsuit is seen as a test case for broader attempts to disqualify Trump from state ballots under section 3 of the 14th Amendment, enacted post-Civil War to prevent supporters of the Confederacy from serving in the government. The Colorado court concluded that Trump’s role in instigating violence at the Capitol disqualifies him, acknowledging the unprecedented nature of the decision.

Trump’s campaign criticized the ruling as “undemocratic” and plans a swift appeal. The decision overturns a lower court’s ruling that found Trump engaged in insurrection but argued that, as president, he was not an “officer of the United States” subject to disqualification under the amendment.

The case, initiated by Colorado voters and supported by the advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, contends that Trump should be disqualified for inciting the Capitol attack. Some hope this case will bolster broader disqualification efforts and potentially reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump’s campaign rejects 14th Amendment challenges, framing them as an attempt to deny voters their preferred candidate. His lawyers argue that his speech on the day of the riot is protected by free speech rights, emphasizing that the amendment doesn’t apply to presidents and that Congress should vote to disqualify a candidate.

Three Colorado Supreme Court justices dissented, with one, Carlos Samour, expressing concern about the lack of procedural due process in determining Trump’s eligibility for the ballot, highlighting the absence of a jury conviction for insurrection.

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