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Former President Donald Trump delivers a speech during a campaign event November 11, 2023 in Claremont, New Hampshire.
The group trying to remove Donald Trump from the Colorado ballot based on the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectional ban” has filed an appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court, hoping to overturn a court ruling lower that the ban does not apply to presidents.
The appeal was filed by Republican and independent voters who filed the lawsuit in coordination with a liberal-leaning watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Many experts believe the case will eventually make it to the U.S. Supreme Court, one way or another.
Colorado District Court Judge Sarah Wallace issued a stunning 102-page ruling Friday, which found that Trump “engaged in an insurrection” on Jan. 6, 2021, but concluded that “the insurrection ban » of the 14th Amendment did not apply to presidents, based on the text of the amendment, which was ratified in 1868 following the Civil War.
It says U.S. officials who take an oath to support the Constitution are banned from future office if they “engage in insurrection.” The provision explicitly prohibits insurrectionists from serving as senators, representatives, and even presidential electors in the United States — but it says nothing about the presidency. It says it covers “any office, civil or military, under the United States,” and Wallace ruled that this does not include the office of the presidency.
It’s this key finding that Trump’s opponents hope the Colorado Supreme Court will overturn.
“No court should adopt an interpretation of the Constitution that leads to such absurd results,” the protesters wrote in their appeal brief. “Fortunately, in this case, the text and the story are all consistent with the common sense result. Section 3 does not disqualify insurrectionists who have violated their oath from almost all public offices except the highest, nor does it give a one-time free pass to insurrectionist presidents.
All seven justices on the Colorado Supreme Court were appointed by Democratic governors. Six of the seven went on to win statewide retention elections to remain on the bench. The seventh was only appointed in 2021 and has not yet been presented to voters.
Sean Grimsley, a lawyer for the anti-Trump challengers, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Monday that he is “hopeful” his appeal will prevail by overturning the “one issue” that the judge “got wrong” about who does the banning – and doesn’t do it. ‘t – apply to.
“We will pursue our claims in court. I think we presented a very good case, the judge issued a very detailed and thorough opinion – it took until page 95 of a 102 page opinion for her to rule against us on anything, so we’ll just keep going. We’re going to go to the Colorado Supreme Court and see what happens there.
In other parts of Wallace’s decision, she vehemently condemned Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. She concluded that the former president “actively stoked the anger of his extremist supporters” and “has acted with the specific intent of inciting political violence and directing it against the Capitol.”
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Trump has prevailed in similar constitutional challenges in several states, including Michigan and Minnesota, although other appeals are pending.
“It was an outrageous attempt to disenfranchise millions and millions of voters by keeping us off the ballot,” Trump said Saturday at a campaign rally in Iowa. “We have now defeated the Radical Democrats’ fraud in qualifying elections in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and other states.”
Trump also appealed the ruling, challenging several of the judge’s findings, including that he “engaged” in the January 6 insurrection.
Trump’s lawyers say Wallace reached the “correct” conclusion that the insurrection ban does not apply to presidents.
However, they asked the Colorado Supreme Court to overturn its other decisions, arguing that it “made multiple serious jurisdictional and legal errors… creating unprecedented and baseless new legal standards in the application” of the constitutional disqualification clause.
The attorneys said in a court filing that they want those issues corrected now because of the possibility of “reconsideration” of the case, referring to the widely anticipated possible appeals to the Supreme Court.
This story has been updated with additional developments.