The Colorado Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, ruled on Tuesday that the Constitution’s “Insurrection Clause” bars former President Donald Trump from being on the 2024 presidential ballot, asserting that there is clear and convincing evidence of his engagement in insurrection as per Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. This ruling partially overturns a prior decision by Colorado District Court Judge Sarah Wallace, who held that Trump’s status as an officer of the United States under the Fourteenth Amendment did not disqualify him from the Colorado primary ballot.
Chief Justice Boatright, in dissent, argued for dismissal, highlighting the need for a more rigorous process and due process for such challenges. The Colorado Supreme Court, by setting a deadline of January 4, 2024, seemingly challenges the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.
The Court rejected Trump’s free speech defense, stating, “We consider and reject President Trump’s argument that his speech on January 6 was protected by the First Amendment,” despite Trump’s calls for peaceful protest. The Court’s unilateral determination that Trump engaged in insurrection is notable, given that he has not been charged, convicted, or even faced trial for the alleged crime of insurrection. Trump was acquitted by the U.S. Senate on charges related to the January 6 events.
The Court referenced the U.S. House January 6 Select Committee, though Trump was acquitted of the House’s charges in the Senate. The decision faced criticism for potential bias, as the all-Democrat appointed Colorado Supreme Court ruled against Trump, supporting a left-wing group’s effort to remove him from the ballot.
The dissent, notably from Justice Carlos Samour, questioned the absence of federal legislation to enforce Section Three and emphasized concerns about the court’s consideration of a partial congressional report. Samour, with over three decades of involvement in the justice system, expressed that the proceedings did not resemble anything he had seen in a courtroom.
The lawsuit in Colorado is part of a broader trend of legal challenges in multiple states invoking the “Insurrection Clause” to prevent Trump from being on the ballot. The Supreme Court’s intervention is awaited as the deadline for certifying Colorado’s primary ballots is January 5, 2024. The case is Anderson v. Griswold, Case No. 23SA300, before the Colorado Supreme Court.