Colorado Supreme Court blocks Trump from ballots in election


Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, smiles during a campaign event in Pueblo, CO, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016.

Matthew Staver | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday barred former President Donald Trump from appearing on the state’s ballots for next year’s election due to his inciting the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot, but paused the decision from taking effect until Jan. 4.

The delay allows Trump to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Colorado ruling, which found that Trump had engaged in “insurrection,” thus disqualifying him from serving as president under a provision in the U.S. Constitution.

It is the first time a state court has agreed that Trump should be disqualified from the 2024 election on those grounds.

The Colorado Supreme Court said that if Trump seeks a review of the case from the U.S. Supreme Court — which his campaign immediately vowed to do — the pause in the ruling will remain in effect until the federal high court either rejects Trump’s request or rules on the question of his eligibility on the ballot.

That delay means that Trump, who looks increasingly likely to win the Republican presidential nomination, could appear on the March 5 GOP primary ballot in Colorado.

A majority of four Colorado Supreme Court justices voted to block Trump from the ballot in Tuesday’s ruling, which overturned a lower state court judge’s decision allowing him to be on the ballot. Three justices, among them Chief Justice Brian Boatright, dissented from the opinion.

All seven justices who heard the case were appointed by Democratic governors.

“A majority of the court holds that President Trump is disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the state Supreme Court said in its ruling.

“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 ruling said.

The majority went on to say, “We do not reach these conclusions lightly.”

“We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach,” the opinion said.

“We are also cognizant that we travel in uncharted territory, and that this case presents several issues of first impression.”

If the ruling stands, Trump would be denied the opportunity to contest for Colorado’s 10 votes in the Electoral College, the entity that selects a president every four years.

Courts in Minnesota and Michigan have rejected similar suits challenging Trump’s placement on the presidential ballot. But the issue continues to be litigated in many states, including Michigan, where plaintiffs have appealed the loss of their suit.

In a statement, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said, “Unsurprisingly, the all-Democrat appointed Colorado Supreme Court has ruled against President Trump, supporting a Soros-funded, left-wing group’s scheme to interfere in an election on behalf of Crooked Joe Biden by removing President Trump’s name from the ballot and eliminating the rights of Colorado voters to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

Cheung called the ruling “completely flawed” adding that “we will swiftly file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court and a concurrent request for a stay of this deeply undemocratic decision.”

“We have full confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly rule in our favor and finally put an end to these unAmerican lawsuits,” Cheung said. 

The ruling comes three months after a group of six Colorado voters sued to block Trump from state ballots because of a claim he was barred due to the constitutional provision.

Section 3 says that “no person” can serve as an officer of the United States who, having previously taken an oath of federal office, “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S.

The suit claimed that Trump’s incitement of the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by a mob of his supporters was an act of insurrection.

Read more CNBC politics coverage

The riot disrupted for hours the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Trump had pressured his vice president, Mike Pence, to refuse to accept the Electoral College results in Biden’s favor at that proceeding.

In November, Denver District Court Judge Sarah Wallace ruled that Trump could appear on the ballot, even though she believed he had “engaged in insurrection” by inciting the riot.

Wallace said Trump’s name should be on the ballot because the office of president is not subject to Section 3.

Wallace’s ruling was appealed by the plaintiffs, and also by Trump, who objected to her finding that he had engaged in insurrection.

The Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on Dec. 6.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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