Trump Is Disqualified From the 2024 Ballot, Colorado Supreme Court Rules
"It’s the first court to find that the disqualification clause of the 14th Amendment applies to Mr. Trump, in addition to affirming that he engaged in insurrection.
Former President Donald J. Trump is ineligible to hold office again, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, accepting the argument that the 14th Amendment disqualifies him in an explosive decision that could upend the 2024 election.
In a lengthy ruling ordering the Colorado secretary of state to exclude Mr. Trump from the state’s Republican primary ballot, the justices reversed a Denver district judge’s finding last month that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — which disqualifies people who have engaged in insurrection against the Constitution after having taken an oath to support it from holding office — did not apply to the presidency.
They affirmed the district judge’s other key conclusions: that Mr. Trump’s actions before and on Jan. 6, 2021, constituted engaging in insurrection, and that courts had the authority to enforce Section 3 against a person whom Congress had not specifically designated.
Mr. Trump is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Tuesday’s ruling applies only to Colorado, but if the Supreme Court were to affirm it, he could be disqualified more broadly. The Colorado Supreme Court stayed its ruling until Jan. 4, 2024, to allow time for appeals.
The Colorado Supreme Court is the first court to find that the disqualification clause applies to Mr. Trump, an argument his opponents have been making across the country. Similar lawsuits in Minnesota and New Hampshire were dismissed on procedural grounds. A judge in Michigan ruled last month that the issue was political and not for him to decide, and an appeals court affirmed the decision not to disqualify him. The plaintiffs there have appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.
The cases hinge on several questions: Was it an insurrection when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, trying to stop the certification of the 2020 election? If so, did Mr. Trump engage in that insurrection through his messages to his supporters beforehand, his speech that morning and his Twitter posts during the attack? Do courts have the authority to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment without congressional action? And does Section 3 apply to the presidency?
Judge Sarah B. Wallace, who made the district court ruling in Colorado, had said yes to all but the last question.
Because Section 3 enumerates several offices but not the presidency, and because the presidential oath is worded differently from the oaths of the enumerated offices, Judge Wallace concluded that the broad phrase “officers of the United States” was not intended to include the presidency. The Colorado Supreme Court disagreed.