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Colorado Supreme Court Tosses Trump From 2024 Ballot

Throwing matches at a powder keg?

by | Dec 20, 2023 | Articles, Law, Opinion

The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that Donald Trump is forbidden from appearing on the state’s primary ballot in the 2024 presidential race. The court delivered its 4-3 decision Tuesday, Dec. 19, after left-wing group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued to keep Trump off the ballot, arguing he was ineligible because of his actions during the January 6 unrest at the United States Capitol. Stating “We travel in uncharted territory,” the judges delayed implementing the decision until January, giving Trump time to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

New banner Legal Affairs with ScottNo Choice But Democracy

Colorado will have ten electoral votes in the 2024 presidential election, up from nine the previous cycle. Joe Biden carried the state in 2020, as has every Democrat since George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004. Would Trump have a chance to win the state in 2024? We may never know, thanks to its highest court applying a rule created to prohibit Confederate veterans of the Civil War from returning to government.

Lawsuits trying to disqualify Trump under the 14th Amendment – adopted in 1868 during Reconstruction – had been filed in several states unsuccessfully. Colorado is different because it allows voters to petition the court for pre-election review, which is what happened in this case.

The district court trial judge, Sarah B. Wallace, ruled that Trump “engaged in insurrection” but that another provision of the Amendment prevented him from being charged. On appeal, the state supreme court ruled that Wallace had erred in her ruling that Trump was not eligible for disqualification. It all hinged on whether the 14th Amendment’s description of “an officer of the United States” explicitly includes the president. The majority said it does, and so Coloradans should never be given a choice to vote for Trump.

Democrat governors appointed all seven members of the court. Justices Monica Márquez, William W. Hood III, Richard L. Gabriel, and Melissa Hart agreed to prevent Trump from appearing on ballots. The dissenters were Justices Carlos Samour, Maria E. Berkenkotter, and Chief Justice Brian Boatright.

“We’re Not Going to Let You Vote for Trump”

After the news broke, Donald Trump posted a flurry of reactions slamming the Colorado court, including from prominent law professor and legal commentator Jonathan Turley, who cautioned, “This country is a powder keg, and this court is just throwing matches at it…” He called January 6 a riot, not an insurrection, and said:

“This is a time when we actually need democracy. We need to allow the voters to vote. We need to hear their decision.

“And the court here just said: ‘You’re not going to get that. In Colorado, we’re not going to let you vote for Donald Trump.'”

The part of the order that suspends the judgment is set to expire on January 4. It says that if Trump appeals the issue to the US Supreme Court by that date, state ballots must include his name unless and until the highest court says otherwise. Mr. Trump is expected to file an appeal at the Supreme Court forthwith.

Read More From Scott D. Cosenza, Esq.

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