Trump’s 2024 problems are getting worse.
A Colorado District Judge, Sarah Wallace, has issued a series of rulings rejecting three separate attempts by former President Donald Trump and the Colorado GOP to halt a lawsuit aimed at preventing him from being included on the 2024 presidential ballot in the state, citing the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban.” These rulings represent a setback for Trump, who is confronting multiple challenges to his candidacy in various states due to his role in the events of January 6, 2021. While Trump still has a pending motion to dismiss the Colorado lawsuit, it appears that the case is now heading towards an unprecedented trial later this month.
According to CNN, the 14th Amendment, established in the aftermath of the Civil War, contains a provision stipulating that U.S. officials who have sworn to uphold the Constitution can be disqualified from holding future office if they have “engaged in insurrection” or have provided “aid or comfort” to insurrectionists. However, the Constitution does not explicitly outline how this ban should be enforced, and it has been applied only on two occasions since the 1800s.
The Colorado lawsuit was filed by the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated voters. The trial, scheduled to commence on October 30, aims to address several novel legal questions regarding the application of the 14th Amendment to Donald Trump.
In a 24-page ruling, Judge Wallace dismissed many of Trump’s arguments that the case was procedurally flawed and should be dismissed. She emphasized that the central issue of whether the Colorado Secretary of State, Jena Griswold, has the authority to bar Trump from the ballot based on the 14th Amendment is a matter best suited for trial.
Additionally, Judge Wallace rejected arguments from the Colorado GOP that state law grants the party, rather than election officials, the ultimate say in determining which candidates can appear on the ballot. She argued that allowing the party unrestricted discretion in candidate selection would undermine the Constitution’s eligibility requirements.
Judge Wallace also cited a 2012 opinion from Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who, at the time, was an appeals judge in Denver. The opinion stated that states have the authority to exclude candidates from the ballot who are constitutionally ineligible for office, which she cited in rejecting Trump’s claim that Colorado’s ballot access laws don’t grant state officials the power to disqualify him based on federal constitutional considerations.
Trump previously failed in an attempt to have the case dismissed on free-speech grounds.
The current frontrunner for the GOP, Donald Trump, maintains his innocence regarding the events of January 6 and has entered a not guilty plea to both state and federal charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. His campaign characterizes these lawsuits as promoting an “absurd conspiracy theory” and accuses the challengers of stretching the law beyond recognition.
In response to Judge Wallace’s rulings, the Trump campaign criticized her and expressed confidence that the decision would be overturned, either by the Colorado Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court. They argue that keeping the leading presidential candidate off the ballot is unjust and un-American.
It’s worth noting that the legal challenges involving the 14th Amendment in Colorado and other pivotal states face significant obstacles to Trump’s disqualification from running for the presidency. Trump is expected to appeal any decision that seeks to prevent his inclusion on the ballot, which could ultimately lead to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the conservative supermajority may have the final say.
In recent months, a growing and ideologically diverse group of legal scholars has lent support to the idea that Trump is disqualified under the “insurrectionist ban.” The bipartisan House committee that investigated the events of January 6 previously recommended that Trump be prohibited from holding future office under the 14th Amendment.
Lastly, the Colorado challengers have revealed their intention to depose Trump before the trial, a request that Trump opposes, and a ruling on this matter is pending.