Colorado Supreme Court Rules Trump Ineligible To Hold Office of President

Last updated on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at 7:02 p.m. EST.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a shocking decision, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that former President Donald Trump is disqualified from holding the office of president under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. 

Today’s decision stems from a lawsuit filed by a group of Colorado voters seeking to disqualify Trump from holding the office of president under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. In November, a state judge found that even though Trump engaged in insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, that did not disqualify him from appearing on Colorado’s primary ballot because Section 3 does not apply to the office of president. 

Trump supporters participate in a rally Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. The Colorado Supreme Court hears arguments in a case seeking to use the Constitution’s insurrection clause to keep former President Donald Trump off the ballot. Both sides are appealing a ruling from a district court judge who found Trump incited an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, but could remain on the ballot regardless. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Last month, voters appealed the district court’s decision, which kept Trump on the 2024 Colorado primary ballot, to the state’s Supreme Court. Trump also appealed the ruling, arguing that the court made “multiple grave jurisdictional and legal errors” even though it allowed him to remain on the primary ballot.

In today’s opinion, the court reversed the lower court’s ruling that Section 3 does not apply to the office of the presidency: “President Trump asks us to hold that Section Three disqualifies every oathbreaking insurrectionist except the most powerful one and that it bars oath-breakers from virtually every office, both state and federal, except the highest one in the land.  Both results are inconsistent with the plain language and history of Section Three.”

The court affirmed the lower court’s ruling that Trump engaged in insurrection and found that Trump “undertook all these actions to aid and further a common unlawful purpose that he himself conceived and set in motion: prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election and stop the peaceful transfer of power.”

The court reiterated the magnitude of its decision, stating the justices were “mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor” and recognized that the decision has propelled the country into “uncharted territory.” 

The court paused its decision pending review by the U.S. Supreme Court until Jan. 4, 2024 — the day before the state’s deadline to certify candidates for the presidential primary ballot. The state’s primary is officially scheduled for March 5, 2024. If the decision is appealed, the decision will remain paused until it’s resolved in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

There is a “high likelihood this will get appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) on MSNBC after the decision came down. 

Trump’s campaign said they plan to “swiftly file an appeal” to the nation’s highest court and request a pause of “this deeply undemocratic decision.”

Trump faces similar challenges to his eligibility in 16 active lawsuits across the country. Courts in Michigan and Minnesota have ruled that Trump is eligible to appear on each state’s primary ballot. 

Read the opinion here.

Learn more about the case here.

Learn more about the 14th Amendment here.