Left: Judge Sarah B. Wallace presides over the final day of a hearing for a lawsuit to keep former President Donald Trump off the state ballot, Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, Pool). Right: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures after speaking Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell.)
The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to take up the fight over whether Donald Trump can appear on the state’s primary ballot in the upcoming presidential primary election.
Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace had previously determined that Trump can stay on the ballot in the Centennial State, although — as Law&Crime reported at the time — it was a near-certainty that the ruling would be appealed.
That’s exactly what happened: both the plaintiffs in the case and lawyers for the former president asked the high court to review Wallace’s ruling. Notably, Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a defendant in the case, did not file an appeal. Trump’s lawyers filed as intervenors in the case.
“The Court accepts the cross-applications — Petitioners’ Application for Review, as well as Intervenor Trump’s Application for Review and Adjudication,” the state Supreme Court wrote in an order issued Tuesday (citations omitted).
A group of six Republicans and one unaffiliated voter, all represented by the advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), had argued that he should be removed because Section III of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment bars any person from serving as president if, while having already taken oath to uphold the Constitution, “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Trump’s lawyers had argued that the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was the result of “unrequited love” from the former president’s most extreme supporters.
In her ruling in favor of Trump, Wallace found that despite her conclusion that Trump did engage in an insurrection, Section Three didn’t apply to him.
In appealing the ruling, CREW lawyers argued that Wallace’s decision not to apply Section III of the 14th Amendment was incorrect.
“This holding was reversible error,” CREW’s filing reads. “The Constitution itself, historical context, and common sense, all make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s disqualification clause extends to the President and the Presidency.”
Trump’s legal team, meanwhile — despite having won a victory in Wallace’s court — wants the Colorado Supreme Court to evaluate at least one of Wallace’s notable conclusions.
“[T]he Court finds that Petitioners have established that Trump engaged in an insurrection on January 6, 2021 through incitement, and that the First Amendment does not protect Trump’s speech,” Wallace wrote in her ruling.
Trump’s lawyers raised multiple questions about whether Wallace could draw such a conclusion because, including the argument that, as she noted, Article III didn’t apply to Trump. Trump’s lawyers implied Wallace exceeded her judicial authority because “courts may not second-guess a President’s discretionary decision-making” in determining whether and when to deploy the National Guard.
The Colorado high court will hear oral arguments on Dec. 6.
The Colorado case is one of several efforts to try to boot Trump from the ballot in 2024. Attempts in Michigan, New Hampshire, and Minnesota have all failed, although the Minnesota judge didn’t rule out a challenge to Trump’s presence on the post-primary presidential ballot.
Brandi Buchman contributed to this report.
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