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Trump Asks Supreme Court to Keep Him on Colorado Ballot

Trump Appeals to Supreme Court to Remain on Colorado Ballot

The request was filed following a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court, which determined that the ex-president had participated in insurrection, rendering him ineligible to hold office under the 14th Amendment.

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.

Following a similar petition from the Colorado Republican Party last week, Former President Donald J. Trump submitted his own petition, seeking to stay on the Colorado primary ballot. Six voters who had previously prevailed in the Colorado Supreme Court filed a motion, urging a swift resolution to the case. The Supreme Court has not yet made a decision on expediting the consideration of these cases but is expected to do so in the coming days. This Colorado case is just one of several involving or impacting Mr. Trump on the Supreme Court’s docket. Another pending decision concerns absolute immunity from prosecution, and a ruling on a key charge in a federal election-interference case is anticipated by June. Meanwhile, a recent ruling in Maine, concurring with the Colorado court’s decision on Trump’s eligibility, has prompted an appeal by Trump in a state court. Both cases are currently on hold during the appeal process, providing the U.S. Supreme Court with some time for consideration.

Mr. Trump’s legal team contends that the U.S. Supreme Court must intervene following the two previous rulings. They argue that the Colorado Supreme Court‘s decision would unlawfully disenfranchise millions of voters in Colorado and potentially set a precedent to disenfranchise tens of millions nationwide. They cite an instance in Maine where the Colorado proceedings were used as a basis to exclude President Trump from the state’s ballot. According to Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, the petition is a robust legal document that raises challenging questions warranting consideration by the Supreme Court.

The core of the case revolves around Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, enacted after the Civil War, which prohibits individuals who engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States from holding office if they had previously sworn an oath to support the Constitution.

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.

The petition argued, “‘Insurrection’ as understood at the time of the passage of the 14th Amendment meant the taking up of arms and waging war upon the United States.” It highlighted that the amendment was adopted in the aftermath of “the United States had undergone a horrific civil war in which over 600,000 combatants died, and the very survival of the nation was in doubt.”

“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.”

In a broader context, Mr. Trump’s petition asserted that voters, rather than judges, should be the ones to assess whether his conduct disqualified him from a second term.

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.

In Georgia, another state judge, assuming that the Jan. 6 attacks constituted an insurrection and that participation in them disqualified candidates from office, ruled that the actions of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, did not meet the criteria for removal from the ballot.

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