SCOTUS to Determine Whether Trump Stays on Colorado Ballot

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The Supreme Court will soon hear oral arguments in Trump v. Anderson, which will determine whether President Donald Trump may remain on the 2024 presidential primary ballot in the State of Colorado. The decision could have broad implications given that other state courts have deferred ruling until the Supreme Court weighs in on Trump’s eligibility.

Facts of the Case

The case began when a group of Colorado electors eligible to vote in the Republican presidential primary—both registered Republican and unaffiliated voters (collectively, “the Electors”)—filed a petition in the District Court for the City and County of Denver, asking the court to rule that former President Donald J. Trump may not appear on the Colorado Republican presidential primary ballot.

Citing provisions of Colorado’s Uniform Election Code of 1992, §§ 1-1-101 to 1-13-804, C.R.S. (2023), the Electors requested that the district court prohibit Jena Griswold, in her official capacity as Colorado’s Secretary of State, from placing President Trump’s name on the presidential primary ballot. They alleged that the Fourteenth Amendment disqualified President Trump from seeking the presidency. More specifically, they asserted that he was ineligible under Section Three because he engaged in insurrection on January 6, 2021, after swearing an oath as President to support the U.S. Constitution. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment provides:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

The district court found by clear and convincing evidence that President Trump engaged in insurrection as those terms are used in Section Three. However, it further found that Section Three does not apply to the President. Accordingly, the court denied the petition to keep President Trump off the presidential primary ballot.

Colorado Supreme Court’s Decision

A majority of the Supreme Court of Colorado disagreed. The court held that Section Three encompasses the office of the Presidency and someone who has taken an oath as President.Accordingly, Trump is disqualified from holding the office of President under the United States Constitution. Because he is disqualified, it would be a wrongful act under the Election Code for the Colorado Secretary of State to list him as a candidate on the presidential primary ballot. The state supreme court stayed its decision pending review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Issues Before the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court granted certiorari on January 5, 2024. The justices agreed to consider the following question: “Did the Colorado Supreme Court err in ordering President Trump excluded from the 2024 presidential primary ballot?”

The case in on an expedited schedule, with oral arguments scheduled for February 8, 2024.

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