Colorado Barring Trump From 2024 Ballot Sets Up Likely Supreme Court Challenge

Colorado Barring Trump From 2024 Ballot Sets Up Likely Supreme Court Challenge – The state Supreme Court’s surprising decision in Colorado on Tuesday suggests that the question of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s eligibility for a second term next year may be on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Diverging from judgments in various state courts, the Colorado court concluded that Trump endorsed an insurrection against the U.S. Constitution on January 6, 2021.

Resulting in his disqualification from holding public office. The 4-3 ruling, which applies to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment known as the “disqualification clause” or the “insurrection clause,” requires Colorado’s secretary of state to exclude Trump from the state’s Republican primary in March 2024.

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“We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” the court said in its unprecedented verdict. “We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.”

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The ruling says Trump is “disqualified from holding the office of the president” but it does not state whether the decision applies to the general election. Labeling the decision as “undemocratic,” Trump’s campaign pledged a prompt appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a 6-3 conservative majority, featuring three Trump appointees, presides. 

The Colorado judges temporarily suspended their ruling until January 4, 2024, permitting an appeal. During this period, Trump’s name can still be included on the state’s primary ballot. Now, let’s explore the provisions of the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment, along with the 13th and 15th amendments, was added to the U.S. Constitution post-Civil War to broaden civil and legal rights for previously enslaved Black individuals.

It is best known for its Section 1, which grants citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” and guarantees citizens the “equal protection of the laws.” The less-well-known Section 3 states that no one who took an “oath to support the Constitution of the United States” and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution or gave “aid or comfort to [its] enemies” can serve as a senator, representative or presidential elector or hold any office.

Cvil or military — unless approved by a supermajority vote of Congress. During the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War, Section 3 was utilized to bar former Confederate officials from holding office. However, this provision remained largely inactive for over 150 years until the events of January 6, 2021, when Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

Subsequent to this attack, liberal groups attempted to use Section 3 to challenge the eligibility of congressional candidates who opposed the 2020 election results, but their efforts did not gain traction. The sole successful application of Section 3 took place in September 2022 when a New Mexico judge ousted a county commissioner convicted in connection with the events of January 6.

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Section 3 doesn’t explicitly specify whether the president can be disqualified, prompting some experts to suggest presidential immunity. However, Gerard Magliocca, an Indiana University law professor with extensive writings on Section 3, contends that such an interpretation misreads the text and history of the provision.

“This issue was raised in Congress when the proposal was under consideration,” Magliocca told VOA in an interview in September. “Someone said, ‘Does this apply to the presidency or the vice presidency?’ And the answer given was, ‘Yes, it does.’” What is more, Magliocca said, the phrase “officer of the United States,” as used in Section 3, refers to the president, making him subject to the disqualification provision.

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“Andrew Johnson, who was president at the time, repeatedly referred to himself as the chief executive officer of the United States in asserting his authority to pursue Reconstruction in the aftermath of the Civil War in 1865,” Magliocca said. Legal challenges to Trump’s eligibility have been initiated in 16 states. 

Court dismissals occurred in Michigan, Minnesota, and New Hampshire. Should the U.S. Supreme Court decide to consider Trump’s anticipated appeal, its decision could have implications for the general election, potentially influencing ongoing cases in these states.

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