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U.S. Supreme Court to hear Colorado case barring Trump from ballot for insurrection

January 6, 2024, 12:14 pm

Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh (Getty Images).

Editor’s note: Read more from the Colorado Times Recorder’s reporting on the Trump 14th Amendment case here.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide whether former President Donald Trump can appear on Colorado’s 2024 presidential primary ballot, granting an appeal that had been widely expected in the wake of the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling that the Republican frontrunner is ineligible to hold office under a Civil War-era insurrection clause.

In a short notice published Friday afternoon, the court granted a so-called writ of certiorari — a formal order for a case to be heard before the Supreme Court — in the case of Donald J. Trump v. Norma Anderson et al., scheduling oral arguments in the case for Feb. 8.

The pending review by the nation’s highest court means that Trump will still appear on ballots for Colorado’s March 5 primary despite the Colorado Supreme Court’s historic Dec. 19 ruling, which held that Trump’s actions in relation to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol disqualify him from office under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Section 3 of the amendment prohibits a person who “engaged in insurrection” after taking an oath to support the Constitution from holding office again.

State law requires Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold to certify presidential primary candidates by Friday, Jan. 5. Though a majority of Colorado Supreme Court justices ruled last month that Trump is disqualified, they stayed their decision in anticipation of a U.S. Supreme Court appeal, requiring Griswold to place Trump on the ballot “until the receipt of any order or mandate from the (U.S.) Supreme Court.”

Shortly after the Supreme Court granted certiorari, Griswold’s office confirmed late Friday that she had certified the state’s 2024 primary ballot, with Trump’s name among the seven GOP candidates listed.

In a CNN interview this week, Griswold said that Trump could still be disqualified from the primary if the Supreme Court upholds the Colorado ruling before March 5, likening such an outcome to situations in which a candidate withdraws from a race or is “otherwise unable to be voted on.”

“In that situation, if voters cast a ballot or a vote for someone who is disqualified, we would not be able to count those votes,” Griswold said.

Six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters, backed by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, sued Trump and Griswold in September in Denver District Court, seeking a court order barring Griswold from certifying Trump’s candidacy. Though a district judge initially rejected the 14th Amendment claims and ordered Trump to be placed on the ballot, a 4-3 Colorado Supreme Court majority overturned that ruling and sided with the plaintiffs on appeal.

That ruling was, in turn, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by both Trump’s attorneys and the Colorado Republican Party. In separate filings, the plaintiffs and Griswold also urged an expedited review by the court.

Conservatives hold a 6-3 majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, and three of its right-leaning justices were appointed by Trump himself. Alina Habba, an attorney representing Trump, said in a Fox News interview on Thursday that she was confident the court would rule in Trump’s favor.

“I think it should be a slam dunk in the Supreme Court,” Habba said. “You know, people like Kavanaugh, who the president fought for, who the president went through hell to get into place, he’ll step up.”

Trump was indicted last August by federal prosecutors who allege that his “pervasive and destabilizing lies” about the results of the 2020 election “targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government.” Since announcing that he would seek the presidency again in 2024, he has maintained a substantial polling lead over his rivals for the GOP nomination.

Following the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling, Maine became the second state to disqualify Trump from the ballot under Section 3 when Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows issued a ruling to that effect on Dec. 28. Similar challenges to Trump’s ballot eligibility have been rejected in states including Michigan and Minnesota, while others are still pending in at least a dozen states.

Editor’s note: This story first appeared on Colorado Newsline, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

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