Donald Trump, the former president, is now permitted to run for office in the Colorado primary, according to a decision made by a Denver District Court judge. The decision was made on Friday just before five o’clock. The question was whether a clause in the US Constitution prohibiting those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding public office prevented him from running for office.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold released this statement shortly after the ruling, “The Court determined that Donald Trump is eligible to be placed on the Colorado ballot in the March Presidential Primary. This decision may be appealed. As Secretary of State, I will always ensure that every voter can make their voice heard in free and fair elections.”
Under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits persons from holding public office who took an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution and later “engaged in insurrection” against it, supporters have been attempting this year to remove Trump from the ballot in Colorado and other states. Since the years immediately following the Civil War, the measure has been applied only a few times.
“At the end of the day Colorado voters are going to be able to choose who they want for President and that’s what matters,” said Trump attorney and former secretary of state Scott Gessler.
Wallace declared that she had determined that Trump had, in fact, “engaged in insurrection” on January 6 and had disregarded the claims of his lawyers that he was merely exercising his right to free speech. She said she couldn’t disqualify a presidential candidate based solely on that, even though normally that would be sufficient under Section 3.
“I’m surprised at the way the order was structured. Usually what will happen is courts will decide first whether or not the law applies even before we go forward to a trial. In this instance we have a trail and then she ruled that the law didn’t apply,” said Gessler.
Section 3 does not mention the president by name, nor does it mention members of the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. Rather, “elector of President and Vice President,” as well as civil and military offices, are mentioned in the clause.
“Part of the Court’s decision is its reluctance to embrace an interpretation which would disqualify a presidential candidate without a clear, unmistakable indication that such is the intent of Section Three,” the judge wrote.
“It sets up an interesting situation if you think about it,” said Norm Provizer a professor emeritus of political science at Metropolitan State University of Denver who has taught Constitutional law for decades. “Was he involved in the insurrection? Yes. Except the President wasn’t meant to be covered,” he summarized.
Gessler was glad to take the victory in court. “The judge threw a lot of shade on President Trump and you know, we’d rather not have that. At the end of the day though, we won this.” The Trump campaign released a statement saying in part, “We applaud today’s ruling in Colorado, which is another nail in the coffin of the un-American ballot challenges.”
Six republican and independent voters in Washington filed the lawsuit with the support of the left-leaning organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.
“This is the first time a presidential candidate has been found to have engaged in insurrection, and it was found after a thorough evidentiary hearing,” said the organization in a statement.
Plaintiff attorney Mario Nicolais said, “we are very pleased with the opinion and look forward to addressing the sole legal issue on appeal, namely whether Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to insurrectionist presidents.”
The Colorado Supreme Court will hear their appeal. It is almost a given that the case will be appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court.
Wednesday’s closing arguments in the case concluded. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a left-leaning organization in Washington, filed the lawsuit. The petitioners’ attorney, Sean Grimsley, contended that Trump committed an act of insurrection when he encouraged a violent mob to attack the US Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to obstruct the orderly handover of power. According to him, this disqualifies him from holding public office under the 14th Amendment.
According to Trump’s lawyer Scott Gessler, there is no proof that the president intended to incite violence, and violence alone does not equate to an uprising.
Gessler claimed that the lawsuit amounts to meddling in elections and that it is solely based on the lopsided report of the Jan. 6 Committee.
“The petitioners are asking this court to do something that’s never been done in the history of the United States,” Gessler said. “The evidence doesn’t come close to allowing the court to do it.”
The trial, which concluded two weeks ago, featured testimony from two members of Congress, demonstrators, D.C. riot police, and constitutional experts.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Sean Grimsley, the plaintiffs’ attorney from Colorado, informed the judge that the evidence was unambiguous.
“We are here because, for the first time in our nation’s history, the president of the United States engaged in an insurrection,” he said, summing up their case. “Now he wants to be president again. The Constitution does not allow that.”
Supporters intend to prevent Trump from receiving the necessary number of delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination if they can keep him off the primary ballot in a sufficient number of states.
It is almost a given that the case will be appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court, regardless of the judge’s ruling.
Similar court cases in Michigan and Minnesota that contested Trump’s 14th Amendment eligibility to run for office have recently been dismissed. The Minnesota Supreme Court sidestepped the topic of whether Trump, who is leading the Republican primary thus far, is covered by the clause. It rejected a lawsuit seeking to remove him from the state’s primary ballot, arguing that political parties are free to admit anyone they choose as a candidate.
Should Trump emerge as the GOP nominee, the court left the door open for a challenge in the general election. With a more comprehensive decision, a Michigan judge dismissed a second lawsuit that attempted to remove Trump from that state’s primary ballot.
He declared that it is a “political question” that judges, not Congress, should decide whether the clause applies to the former president. Free Speech For People, the liberal organization that brought the Michigan lawsuit, announced that it would be appealing the ruling.
The lawsuits are being referred to by the Trump campaign as “election interference” and a “anti-democratic” attempt to deny voters their choice in November of next year.