In a court brief filed on Saturday, January 6, 2024, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has joined forces with 26 other GOP attorneys general from across the United States to support the inclusion of former President Donald Trump on the Colorado ballot. This collaborative effort aims to keep Trump’s name in the running for the upcoming elections.
Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement on Friday that it will decide whether the 45th chief executive can be excluded from the ballot due to his alleged attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss, a “friend of the court” filing was made.
The brief emphasized that the President is chosen by voters, not lawyers. It criticized the Colorado Supreme Court for not exercising restraint in the matter. The court’s decision to exclude a former President and prominent candidate from the presidential ballot was deemed inappropriate, especially during a highly contested election.
In a brief filed by the former President Donald Trump’s legal team, they expressed concerns about the state court’s decision to label him as an insurrectionist under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. According to the brief, this decision carries significant implications that extend well beyond the borders of Colorado.
On December 19, 2023, the Colorado Supreme Court made a landmark decision by invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to prevent Trump from appearing on the state’s 2024 ballot. This groundbreaking ruling, issued by justices appointed by Democratic governors, marks the first instance in history where Section 3 of the 14th Amendment has been utilized to disqualify a candidate running for presidency.
According to the Associated Press,
The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the urgency of reaching a prompt decision, considering that voters will soon commence casting presidential primary ballots nationwide. Consequently, the court has consented to review Trump’s appeal in a Colorado case that originated from his involvement in the events leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Arguments will take place on February 8, which is typically a month-long winter break for the justices. This condensed timeframe may enable the court to reach a decision before Super Tuesday on March 5. Super Tuesday is a significant day as it involves the largest number of delegates being contested in a single day, including in Colorado.
The court is set to examine, for the first time, the significance and scope of a provision in the 14th Amendment that prohibits certain individuals who have participated in an insurrection from occupying public office. This amendment was ratified in 1868 after the Civil War, and it has been infrequently invoked, resulting in the Supreme Court never having had the opportunity to interpret its meaning until now.
In a groundbreaking ruling last month, the Supreme Court of Colorado voted 4-3 to exclude Trump from the Republican primary ballot. This decision marked a significant milestone as it was the first instance where the 14th Amendment was invoked to prevent a presidential candidate from appearing on the ballot.
Trump has filed a separate appeal in state court challenging the ruling made by Maine’s Democratic secretary of state, Shenna Bellows. The ruling declared him ineligible to be featured on Maine’s ballot due to his involvement in the Capitol attack. However, the appeals process is currently underway, and the Colorado Supreme Court and the Maine secretary of state’s decisions have been put on hold pending the outcome of these appeals.
The high court’s decision to intervene is the most significant involvement in a presidential election since Bush v. Gore in 2000. This landmark case, in which a conservative majority effectively decided the election for Republican George W. Bush, remains one of the most contentious decisions in recent history. It is noteworthy that Justice Clarence Thomas is the only remaining member of the court from that time.
Three out of the nine justices on the Supreme Court were appointed by Trump. However, despite their appointments, they have consistently ruled against him in lawsuits pertaining to the 2020 election and his attempts to withhold documents regarding January 6 and his tax returns from congressional committees.
Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh have consistently sided with the conservative majority in recent decisions. These rulings have resulted in the overturning of long-standing constitutional protections, such as the right to abortion, the expansion of gun rights, and the elimination of affirmative action in college admissions.
Democratic lawmakers have urged Thomas to withdraw from the case due to his wife’s support for Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results. However, it is unlikely that Thomas will comply with this request, as indicated by his continued participation in the proceedings. Thomas has previously recused himself from one other election-related case involving his former law clerk, John Eastman. As of now, those seeking to disqualify Trump have not requested Thomas to recuse himself.
According to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a provision is made that states if an individual takes an oath to uphold the constitution and subsequently participates in an insurrection against it, they are disqualified from holding any state or federal office. This provision was largely ignored after Congress granted amnesty to most former Confederates in 1872. However, this year, numerous lawsuits were filed to prevent Trump from appearing on the ballot, and the only successful case was in Colorado.
In a bid to reverse the Colorado ruling, Trump’s legal team made a bold move by requesting the court to overturn the decision without even considering arguments. They argued that the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling would not only strip millions of voters in Colorado of their constitutional rights but also set a dangerous precedent that could potentially disenfranchise tens of millions of voters across the country.
They are arguing that Trump should win on multiple grounds. They claim that the events that took place on Jan. 6 cannot be classified as an insurrection. Furthermore, even if it were an insurrection, they argue that Trump himself did not participate in it. They also believe that the insurrection clause does not apply to the president and that it is the responsibility of Congress, not individual states, to take action.
Many election law experts, as well as critics of the former president who filed a lawsuit in Colorado, are in agreement that the justices should intervene at this point and address the matter.
“The importance of this case on a national level cannot be overstated. With the presidential primary schedule approaching, there is an urgent need to address the issues at hand without delay. The Supreme Court should prioritize the resolution of this case, ensuring that voters in Colorado and across the country have clarity on whether Trump is constitutionally eligible before casting their primary ballots,” emphasized the lawyers representing the plaintiffs from Colorado in their appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has been dealing with various matters related to the former president Donald Trump and the January 6 incident. One such issue is whether Trump can be on the ballot. However, this is not the only matter that has reached the high court. Special counsel Jack Smith had requested the court to promptly address Trump’s claims of immunity from prosecution in a case where he is accused of plotting to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Although the court declined to rule on it last month, the issue may return to the court depending on the decision of a Washington-based appeals court.
The court has announced its intention to hear an appeal that could potentially overturn numerous charges related to the Capitol riot, including those against Trump.
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