Colorado’s Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing for December 6 to consider cross-appeals on a case to prevent former President Donald Trump from appearing on the ballot for the presidency in 2024.
The plaintiffs, led by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which has ties to the controversial Media Matters for America, seek to overturn Judge Sarah Wallace’s ruling that Trump is not an officer of the United States as defined by the Fourteenth Amendment and that the Amendment, therefore, cannot be used to disqualify him from appearing on the Colorado primary ballot.
Trump’s attorneys responded to the plaintiffs’ appeal by filing a cross-appeal, despite the ruling being considered a narrow victory for the former president. They wrote that Wallace’s court “made legal and factual findings wholly unsupported in the law, and these errors demand review – especially if the Petitioners in this matter also seek review of the sole dispositive issue upon which President Trump prevailed.”
The lawsuit is one of many filed in states across the country citing the Fourteenth Amendment’s “Insurrection Clause,” which bans those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding federal office, as justification for booting Trump from the ballot.
The Colorado case, or a similar case in another state, could potentially make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but time is of the essence, which necessitated the expedited hearing. Ballots for Colorado’s primary, which takes place March 5, 2024, must be certified by January 5.
Plaintiffs strategically filed cases in jurisdictions across the country to keep him off the ballot in what Trump and his supporters have termed “lawfare,” but Trump has received favorable outcomes in New Hampshire, Minnesota, Michigan, and now, Colorado. He continues to build his likely insurmountable lead in the primaries and is even projected to lead in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup against President Biden.
The Supreme Court has never before ruled on the Civil War-era amendment, which emboldened Trump’s opponents to try the legal Hail Mary.
Trump’s attorneys maintain he never “engaged in insurrection” and that his questioning of the 2020 election results is political speech protected by the First Amendment.
“Trump’s comments did not come close to ‘incitement,’ let alone ‘engagement’ in an insurrection,” they wrote in a Colorado filing.
Wallace, the Colorado district court judge, agreed with plaintiffs that Trump engaged in an insurrection, despite the president never being convicted, or even charged, with doing so. He was acquitted by the U.S. Senate and continues to deny any wrongdoing.
Yet she agreed with Trump’s legal team that the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to the office of the president. The text of the amendment specifies “Senator or Representative in Congress” and “elector of President and Vice President” but not “President,” and the oath taken by presidents is prescribed elsewhere in the Constitution than the oath specified in the Fourteenth Amendment.
She had previously denied a motion by Trump’s team that she step aside because of her past donation to a liberal group working to keep Trump off the ballot and denied a motion by Trump and the Colorado GOP to throw the case out.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung responded to the initial ruling:
We applaud today’s ruling in Colorado, which is another nail in the coffin of the un-American ballot challenges. With this decision, Democrats’ 14th Amendment challenges have now been defeated in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and New Hampshire. These cases represent the most cynical and blatant political attempts to interfere with the upcoming presidential election by desperate Democrats who know Crooked Joe Biden is a failed president on the fast track to defeat. The American voter has a Constitutional right to vote for the candidate of their choosing, with President Donald J. Trump leading by massive numbers. This right was correctly preserved in Colorado today and we urge the swift disposal of any and all remaining Democrat ballot challenges. Onward to total victory 2024, we will Make America Great Again!
Each side will have one hour to present its oral argument at 1:00 p.m. MST on December 6.
The case is Anderson v. Griswold, No. 2023SA300, in the Colorado Supreme Court.
Follow Bradley Jaye on Twitter at @BradleyAJaye.