WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Colorado Supreme Court scheduled oral argument for Dec. 6 in a state-level lawsuit challenging former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to be on the state’s ballot for the 2024 presidential election.
Earlier this week, 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.
Using the word “insurrection” to label the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol isn’t just a matter of language. It carries with it serious constitutional ramifications. Across the country, states are grappling with the legal ramifications of the linguistics applied to that unprecedented attack on our democracy.
Adopted after the Civil War, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits the election or appointment of an individual to state or federal office if they previously held such an office, took an oath of office and then had “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the [United States], or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
It precludes any insurrectionist who has served as a member of Congress, state legislator, U.S. military officer or federal or state officer from serving again. At issue in the Colorado appeal before the state Supreme Court is whether the district court erred in ruling that Section 3 does not apply to presidents “or to insurrectionists wanting to be President.”
There are 20 active cases seeking to disqualify Trump from next year’s ballots in 18 different states, including Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. So far, three states have allowed Trump to remain on the primary ballot, rebuffing legal challenges through the 14th Amendment, in Colorado, Michigan and Minnesota.
Earlier this month in Minnesota, the state Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s involvement did not disqualify him from the primary ballot. The court classified the presidential primary as an “internal party election” and found that there is no state law that prevents a political party from “placing on the presidential nomination primary ballot, or sending delegates to the national convention supporting, a candidate who is ineligible to hold office.” The court did not make a decision on Trump’s eligibility for the general election ballot.
A state court in Michigan also held that voters could not prevent Trump from appearing on the state’s primary ballot because that decision lies with the state political party.