Colorado GOP asks US Supreme Court to overturn ruling disqualifying Trump from 2024 ballot

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The Colorado Republican Party says it has asked the US Supreme Court to overturn the unprecedented state Supreme Court ruling that removed Donald Trump from Colorado’s 2024 ballot.

The Colorado GOP was also a party in the case and is fighting to preserve its right to include Trump on its March primary ballot. Trump has not yet filed his appeal, which is expected soon.

The appeal means the state court’s pause on the ruling – which was set to expire January 4 – will be indefinitely extended until the US Supreme Court announces whether it will take up the appeal, and, if it does, until it issues a final decision in the matter.

It also yanks the nine federal justices into yet another controversy involving the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination. The high court is separately involved in other matters related to Trump’s election subversion criminal case.

Appeal to the high court

The Colorado judge who presided over the trial granted the state GOP’s request to intervene in the case shortly after the lawsuit was filed. In their filing Wednesday, the party asked the US Supreme Court to take up the case and restore Trump’s name on the Colorado primary ballot.

“By excluding President Trump from the ballot, the Colorado Supreme Court engaged in an unprecedented disregard for the First Amendment right of political parties to select the candidates of their choice and a usurpation of the rights of the people to choose their elected officials,” lawyers representing the party wrote, according to the petition they posted online.

In addition to the First Amendment argument, the Colorado GOP said the state Supreme Court incorrectly broadened the Constitution’s “insurrectionist ban” to apply to presidents, even though the office isn’t explicitly mentioned in the provision. They also claimed only Congress – not courts or state election officials – can enforce the ban.

“Rejecting a long history of precedent, a state Supreme Court has now concluded that individual litigants, state courts, and secretaries of state in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia have authority to enforce Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the state party wrote.

The Colorado Supreme Court previously rejected all of these arguments. The trial judge agreed with the Colorado GOP’s claim that the ban doesn’t apply to presidents, but the Colorado Supreme Court disagreed and overturned that portion of her ruling – blocking Trump from the ballot.

The party also raises the possibility that other states might adopt Colorado’s rationale to exclude Trump from the ballot. Similar challenges are pending in Maine and Oregon, and some Democratic officials have urged election officials to consider removing Trump without a court ruling.

“With the number of challenges to President Trump’s candidacy now pending in other states, ranging from lawsuits to administrative proceedings, there is a real risk the Colorado Supreme Court majority’s flawed and unprecedented analysis will be borrowed, and the resulting grave legal error repeated,” the state party wrote.

Deadlines coming up

The petition came hours after the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a similar 14th Amendment lawsuit, keeping Trump on the ballot there. The dueling outcomes further raise the stakes for the Colorado appeal to the US Supreme Court, which is uniquely positioned to provide nationwide guidance on the novel constitutional matter.

There are critical deadlines coming up that could influence how quickly, or slowly, the justices move. Colorado election officials are required by law to certify by January 5 the list of candidates who will appear on the GOP primary ballot. And the primary itself is set for March 5, which is Super Tuesday.

The stunning 4-3 decision issued by the Colorado Supreme Court on December 19 said Trump is constitutionally ineligible to run in 2024 because the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists holding public office covers his conduct on January 6, 2021.

“President Trump incited and encouraged the use of violence and lawless action to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power,” the Colorado justices wrote in their unsigned, 134-page majority opinion.

The justices also ruled that removing Trump from the ballot doesn’t violate the Colorado GOP’s First Amendment right to political association.

“The Election Code limits presidential primary ballot access to only qualified candidates. Such a restriction is an ‘eminently reasonable’ regulation that does not severely burden (the Colorado GOP’s) associational rights,” the majority opinion said, adding, “the Constitution — not any political party rule — is the supreme law of the land.”

A group of Republican and independent voters filed the Colorado lawsuit, in coordination with a liberal government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

A district judge held a weeklong trial and issued a stunning ruling in November that labeled Trump as an insurrectionist but said the presidency is exempt from the vague ban in the 14th Amendment. The state’s high court affirmed her findings about January 6 and then concluded that the ban does apply to Trump.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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Colorado GOP asks US Supreme Court to overturn ruling disqualifying Trump from 2024 ballot

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