On Wednesday, Former President Donald J. Trump appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking to remain on the primary ballot in Colorado. This move comes in response to a controversial ruling by the state Supreme Court, which deemed him ineligible due to his involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 election, climaxing in the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021.
According to Mr. Trump’s legal team, this ruling is unprecedented, representing “the first time in the history of the United States that the judiciary has prevented voters from casting ballots for the leading major-party presidential candidate.”
The appeal heightens the pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, given the multiple challenges to Trump’s eligibility and the urgent need for a nationwide resolution as the primaries draw near.
“The issues presented in this petition are of exceptional importance and urgently require this court’s prompt resolution,” Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrote.
Congress can remove the prohibition, the provision says, but only by a two-thirds vote in each chamber.
In a 4-to-3 decision in December, the Colorado Supreme Court determined that the provision applicable to Mr. Trump rendered him ineligible for a consecutive term.
The majority expressed the gravity of their decision, stating, “We do not reach these conclusions lightly. 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.”
Mr. Trump’s petition contested the ruling on various fronts, asserting that the events leading to the Capitol assault on Jan. 6 did not constitute an insurrection.
“By contrast,” it added, “the United States has a long history of political protests that have turned violent.”
Even if the events leading to the Capitol riot were deemed an insurrection, Mr. Trump’s petition contended that he himself had not “engaged in insurrection.”
The petition further asserted that Section 3 did not apply to him because he had not taken the relevant type of oath. Additionally, it argued that the presidency was not one of the offices from which officials breaking their oaths were barred.
According to Mr. Trump’s legal team, Section 3 disqualified individuals subject to it from holding office, not from seeking it. If elected, the petition suggested that Congress could lift the disqualification before the candidate’s term commenced.
Furthermore, the petition claimed that judges should refrain from acting unless Congress does. It stated, “Congress — not a state court — is the proper body to resolve questions concerning a presidential candidate’s eligibility.”
The provision has never been utilized to disqualify a presidential candidate, but it has been the focus of cases involving other elected officials in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attacks.
In New Mexico, a state judge mandated the removal of Couy Griffin, a county commissioner in Otero County, under this clause. Griffin had been convicted of trespassing for entering a restricted area of the Capitol grounds during the attack.