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Trump asks Supreme Court to halt Colorado ballot ruling

Former president says ruling to exclude him could be used as 'template' in other states

Former president and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in Iowa last month.
Former president and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in Iowa last month. (Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorneys for Donald Trump on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to strike down a Colorado ruling that concluded he should be excluded from the state’s 2024 presidential primary ballot under a section of the 14th Amendment.

The former president’s attorneys, in a petition with the high court, criticized last month’s decision from the Colorado Supreme Court that found the Constitution’s Insurrection Clause disqualifies Trump from holding the presidency.

The clause aims to ban individuals who previously took an oath to support the Constitution from holding office if they have “engaged in insurrection.” The Colorado majority opinion pointed to Trump’s conduct in the lead up and during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol to conclude he had done so.

Trump’s name will appear on the Colorado ballot when certification takes place on Friday, unless the Supreme Court upholds the state court ruling or refuses to take up the appeal, according to the Colorado secretary of state’s office. The justices have not yet announced whether they will consider the case, and if so, when they might issue a ruling.

In the filing Wednesday, Trump attorneys said the Colorado ruling would “unconstitutionally disenfranchise millions of voters in Colorado” and “likely be used as a template to disenfranchise tens of millions of voters nationwide.”

Trump’s attorneys took issue with the Colorado court’s finding that Trump “engaged in insurrection,” arguing Trump never told his supporters to go into the Capitol during his speech on the Ellipse.

“The Colorado Supreme Court faulted President Trump for not responding, in their view, with alacrity when he learned that the Capitol had been breached,” the filing states.

Plus, at the time the 14th Amendment was passed, insurrection meant waging war against the U.S., Trump’s filing argued.

Trump attorneys also argued that Congress is the correct entity to deal with questions about the eligibility of a presidential candidate, in part because states could come up with different conclusions on Trump’s eligibility to be on the ballot and the terms “engage” and “insurrection” are “unclear and subject to wildly varying standards.”

“Resolving these conflicts requires making policy choices among competing policy and political values,” Trump’s petition states. “These are fundamentally legislative exercises that are properly suited for Congressional — rather than judicial — resolution.”

And the Trump petition said the Supreme Court should consider if the insurrection clause is “not self-executing,” which means that Congress must pass a law to permit individuals to sue under the provision.

The state Colorado Republican Party already had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold also has urged the Supreme Court to do so. In a filing, attorneys for Griswold said an expedited resolution would make sure that voters in Colorado cast votes knowing whether the former president is “qualified to serve as president.”

Steven Cheung, a Trump spokesperson, said activist groups are doing all they can to disenfranchise all American voters by removing Trump’s name from ballots.

“Democrats are obsessively violating the American voters’ Constitutional right to vote for the candidate of their choice,” Cheung said. “This is an unAmerican, unconstitutional act of election interference which cannot stand. We urge a clear, summary rejection of the Colorado Supreme Court’s wrongful ruling and the execution of a free and fair election this November.”

Trump is also facing a 14th Amendment threat out of Maine, where the state’s secretary of state has declared his primary petition to be invalid. Trump has appealed that decision in state court.

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