Supreme Court set to rule on Democratic appointees’ decision to remove Trump from Colorado ballots. Here are the facts.
Colorado’s Supreme Court, which comprises seven Democrat-appointed justices, decided to remove former President Donald Trump from the state’s ballots in December at a Democrat-aligned group’s urging. The reason given:
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment concerning insurrection supposedly covers the presidency and Trump’s actions qualified.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear the Republican front-runner’s appeal on Thursday morning.
The high court’s ruling will likely impact the efforts by other blue states to deprive voters of a choice in the 2024 election. It will likely also serve to further politicize the court ahead of another contentious election.
Trump’s defense so far
Trump’s legal team has so far
- “Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits individuals only from holding office[.] … It does not prevent anyone from running for office, or from being elected to office, because Congress can remove a section 3 disqualification at any time”;
- The Colorado Supreme Court violated the Electors Clause by “flouting the statutes governing presidential elections”;
- Trump did not engage in insurrection, especially not “‘insurrection’ as understood at the time of passage of the Fourteenth Amendment [which] meant the taking up of arms and waging war upon the United States.” Rather he engaged in political rhetoric, not unlike that routinely employed by Democratic lawmakers on the Hill;
- Section 3 is inapplicable to the president. “To find that section 3 includes the presidency, one must conclude that the drafters decided to bury the most visible and prominent national office in a catch-all term that includes low ranking military officers, while choosing to explicitly reference presidential electors”; and
- Congress is the proper body to “resolve questions concerning a presidential candidate’s eligibility,” not a partisan state court.
Who’s looking to eliminate voter choice in Colorado?
previously reported that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington brought the case against Trump on behalf of six Colorado voters.
Among the six voters named in the suit are Norma Anderson, Michelle Priola, Claudine (Cmarada) Schneider, and Krista Kafer.
Priola is the wife of
Democratic state Sen. Kevin Priola.
Kafer is a
Never-Trumper Denver Post opinion writer.
Schneider is a registered Republican and former congresswoman for Rhode Island who
reportedly endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Joe Biden in 2020.
CREW is a
partisan activist group that touts itself as a government watchdog, which was optimized as an attack dog for the Democratic Party by Media Matters founder David Brock in advance of the 2016 election.
The move to eliminate the Republican front-runner from contention in Colorado was executed under CREW’s current president Noah Bookbinder. Bookbinder was until recently a member of the Biden Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Federal Election Commission records indicate he repeatedly dumped money into Democratic causes, including former President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
Through the courts
In September 2023, the six voters with CREW’s backing filed a
complaint requesting Trump’s removal from the primary ballot. Their complaint suggested it would be “improper” and a “breach or neglect of duty” for Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold to allow Biden’s top rival to make it onto the 2024 ballot.
This complaint made its way to the district court.
Colorado District Court Judge Sarah Wallace
ruled against the effort to ban Trump from the ballot, noting Section 3 did not apply to the president. Wallace did, however, agree with the petitioners’ assertion that Trump had engaged in insurrection.
Dissatisfied with the result, the petitioners successfully appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, which ultimately
ruled in a 4-3 decision that Trump engaged in an insurrection on Jan. 6, is ineligible to be president, and cannot therefore appear on the ballot.
The court stayed its decision until the U.S. Supreme Court could weigh in.
A spokesman for the Trump campaign, Stephen Cheung,
noted that the Democratic appointees “issued a completely flawed decision.”
“We have full confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly rule in our favor and finally put an end to these unAmerican lawsuits,” added Cheung.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and fast-tracked it, ostensibly to deliver a decision before the Colorado and Maine primaries in March.
A recent Democratic
poll shows Biden’s popularity dropping off in Colorado ahead of the election. 58% of registered voters hold an unfavorable opinion of the geriatric president.
noted that even in the solidly blue state, Biden’s lead over Trump has dropped to single digits in a hypothetical general election contest. Trump continues to lead Biden nationally in the polls. The latest Morning Consult poll had the Republican up by five points.
The Associated Press
indicated that a definitive ruling from the Supreme Court affirming that Trump engaged in an insurrection might start a chain reaction whereby various other states could keep the Republican front-runner off their ballots.
Already similar efforts to spare the 81-year-old Democratic president from serious competition in the forthcoming elections have been undertaken in Maine, California, and Michigan.
Maeva Marcus, the director of the Institute for Constitutional Studies at George Washington University,
told the BBC, the “rationale” behind the Colorado ruling would “hold for the general election.”
While such an outcome would be advantageous for the incumbent president, longtime Democrat David Axelrod has expressed concern.
reported last month that the Obama campaigner said, “I do think it would rip the country apart if he were actually prevented from running because tens of millions of people want to vote for him.”
Axelrod added, “You know, he’s only gained since he started getting indicted. What you thought might be kryptonite for him has been battery packs. This is a big one for him.”
In addition to disenfranching voters, the decision may also impact the court.
Raoul Berger Professor of Law Emeritus Stephen Presser
noted in January that “when the Supreme Court inevitably corrects Colorado and Maine’s misguided decisions — as it must — Trump’s critics will attack it as arbitrary and undemocratic. One can’t help but speculate that the Colorado and Maine decisions might be calculated to undermine the authority of the Supreme Court itself.”
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