A group of voters in Colorado has filed a lawsuit seeking to keep former President Donald Trump off the state's presidential ballots next year. The lawsuit, filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated voters, argues that Trump is disqualified from holding public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs are challenging Trump's listing as a candidate on the 2024 Republican presidential primary ballot and any future ballot in Colorado.
The lawsuit, filed in state court in Denver, claims that Trump violated his oath to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution as President of the United States by attempting to overthrow the results of the 2020 election and inciting a violent insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. The 115-page lawsuit argues that Trump's actions on January 6th and his false claims of election fraud disqualify him from holding public office, including the Office of the President.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 after the Civil War, states that no person shall hold any office if they engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution after taking an oath to support it. The provision was originally intended to prevent former Confederate officers and officials from holding public office without permission from Congress.
Although Section 3 has rarely been invoked in the last 150 years, a New Mexico state court judge used it in September 2022 to strip Couy Griffin, founder of the group "Cowboys for Trump," of his position as a county commissioner due to his involvement in the January 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol.
The idea of using Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to disqualify Trump from holding public office is gaining traction as he faces federal and state criminal charges related to the 2020 election. Two conservative legal scholars recently argued in a law review article that Trump's participation "in the attempted overthrow of the 2020 presidential election" disqualifies him under the provision.
Former Judge Michael Luttig, a respected conservative legal figure, has also argued that the Constitution prohibits Trump from being president. However, Trump and his campaign have dismissed the effort to keep him off the ballot as a “trick” used by his political opponents.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, said in a statement that she looks forward to the court's resolution of the issues and hopes the case will provide guidance on Trump's eligibility as a candidate for office. State law in Colorado is unclear on how to consider the requirements of the United States Constitution in determining a candidate's eligibility.
The case brought in Colorado will test the force of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and could potentially reach the U.S. Supreme Court. The plaintiffs argue that Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election and interfere with the transfer of presidential power, culminating in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, constitute an “insurrection” under the 14th Amendment.
The six Colorado voters who filed the lawsuit include former U.S. Rep. Claudine Cmarada and former state senate majority leader Norma Anderson. They argue that without Trump's false claims of election fraud, coercive tactics, and inflammatory rhetoric, the attack on the Capitol would not have happened.
The lawsuit seeks to prevent Trump's name from appearing on the Colorado presidential primary ballot in 2024, which is scheduled for March 5. The plaintiffs argue that there is an urgent public interest in promptly resolving Trump's eligibility to serve as president before the primary election.
CREW, the organization behind the lawsuit, has indicated that it will pursue more cases challenging Trump's eligibility to run for president. Noah Bookbinder, the group's president and CEO, stated that it will be an evolving process. The outcome of this lawsuit could have significant implications for Trump's political future and the interpretation of the 14th Amendment.
themes: Donald Trump War Mexico Washington Colorado New Mexico