DENVER (KDVR) — A judge ruled Friday that former President Donald Trump can appear on the 2024 Colorado ballot, rejecting an effort to block him based on the Constitution’s insurrection clause.
The state is ordered by the courts to place Donald J. Trump on the Republican presidential primary ballot when it certifies the ballot on Jan. 5, 2024.
In its decision, the court looked at whether Section Three of the 14th Amendment applies to Trump. A professor who testified in the case provided historical evidence that the presidency is understood as an “office, civil or military, under the United States,” and thus includes the former president.
However, the court said that it is “odd indeed and very troubling to the Court” to lump the presidency in with all other civil or military offices, because Section Three explicitly lists all federal elected positions besides the president and vice president. Therefore, the judge was unpersuaded to include the presidency as an office subject to Section Three of the 14th Amendment.
The judge then agreed that the president is not “an officer of the United States.”
“To be clear, part of the Court’s decision is its reluctance to embrace an interpretation which would disqualify a presidential candidate without a clear, unmistakable indication that such is the intent of Section Three,” the decision read. “As a result, the Court holds that Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to Trump.”
In looking at Trump’s speech and behavior leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, the court determined it needed to find that Trump had the purpose or knowledge to produce insurrection.
“The Court concludes (…) that Trump incited an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and therefore ‘engaged’ in insurrection within the meaning of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the court’s ruling states. “First, the Court concludes that Trump acted with the specific intent to disrupt the Electoral College certification of President Biden’s electoral victory through unlawful means; specifically, by using unlawful force and violence.
“Next, the Court concludes that the language Trump employed was likely to produce such lawlessness,” the ruling reads.
The court said it looked at Trump’s history of “reacting favorably to political violence committed at his rallies or in his name, as well as his cultivation of relationships with extremist political actors who frequently traffic in violent rhetoric,” leading the court to find Trump has a history of endorsing violence and intimidation and a legitimate means of political expression and even virtuous.
“Further, the Court has found that Trump was aware that his supporters were willing to engage in political violence and that they would respond to his calls for them to do so,” the court ruling states.
The lawsuit was originally brought on behalf of a group of Republican and independent Colorado voters who argued the former president had violated the 14th Amendment clause barring anyone from holding office if they’ve engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution. Secretary of State Jena Griswold was the respondent in the trial, due to her position overseeing the state election process. In addition, Trump was represented in the trial and described as an “intervenor.”
In a statement, Griswold responded as secretary of state to the ruling.
“The Court determined that Donald Trump is eligible to be placed on the Colorado ballot in the March presidential primary. This decision may be appealed. As Secretary of State, I will always ensure that every voter can make their voice heard in free and fair elections.”Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold.
Griswold also told FOX31 that her office will not be filing an appeal, but noted that the six individuals who originally filed the suit have three days to file their appeal if they choose.
According to the Associated Press, the Minnesota Supreme Court last week said Trump could remain on the primary ballot because political parties have sole choice over who appears, while a Michigan judge ruled that Congress is the proper forum for deciding whether Section 3 applies to Trump.