The Colorado Supreme Court issued an opinion Tuesday evening disqualifying Donald Trump from appearing on the state’s GOP primary ballot, a monumental ruling which applies the Constitution’s ban on those who engaged in insurrection from holding office.
It’s the first such ruling in the country, and virtually guarantees a fight at the Supreme Court over whether Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election disqualifies him from office under the Constitution.
The court split 4-3. The majority opinion was unsigned.
The ruling affirmed in part a lower court ruling, reached after a week-long evidentiary hearing, that Trump had engaged in insurrection on Jan. 6. The state’s high court rejected two other legal arguments which Trump attorneys have raised in their attempt to fend off disqualification: the court held that Congress does not need to act to disqualify Trump, and reversed the lower court in finding that the President is an officer under the Constitution.
“We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” the ruling reads. “We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.”
The court stayed the ruling until Jan. 4, the deadline for Colorado officials to certify who appears on the GOP primary ballot. The GOP primary is scheduled for March 5.
So far, other courts to have addressed the question of Trump’s eligibility in light of the Disqualification Clause’s ban on former officials who engaged in insurrection have rejected efforts to bar him from seeking office on grounds of jurisdiction. The Colorado Supreme Court, in a case brought by good government nonprofit CREW, has now made a landmark, first-ever ruling in the country’s history: disqualifying a candidate from the presidency for having violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
The ruling ratifies the lower court finding that Trump engaged in insurrection on Jan. 6, under a measure used to keep Confederate officials away from power. A Trump spokesman said in a statement that his campaign would immediately appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
“If review is sought in the Supreme Court before the stay expires, it shall remain in place, and the Secretary will continue to be required to include President Trump’s name on the 2024 presidential primary ballot until the receipt of any order or mandate from the Supreme Court,” the majority said in its opinion.
Three of the justices each wrote separate dissents. One argued that the court lacked jurisdiction under state election law to decide the question; another said that Congress needed to act in order to enforce Section Three. A third dissent held that a criminal court would need to convict a candidate of insurrection in order to resolve the issue, in part because the state’s election code could not handle a question “so complex.”
Trump’s multiple legal entanglements are finally reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now that Colorado has kicked Trump off the ballot, it effectively forces the issue for the high court. At the same time, justices are mulling whether to take the case of Trump’s assertion of immunity from criminal prosecution and will in this term rule on the viability of a criminal statute used to convict hundreds of Jan. 6 rioters and on which Trump’s own indictment partly depends.
Read the ruling here.