Trump asks Supreme Court to keep him on Colorado ballot

Trump asks Supreme Court to keep him on Colorado ballot

Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to keep him on the ballot in Colorado, urging the justices to overturn a state court decision that deemed him ineligible to run in the 2024 election.

In a 43-page petition, the former president said the Colorado Supreme Court improperly ruled last month that he had run afoul of the Constitution’s “insurrection clause” by stoking the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. State courts cannot make that determination, Trump’s attorneys say.

Trump’s legal team also contends that the Jan. 6 riot fails to qualify as an “insurrection,” that Trump’s exhortations to his crowd of supporters that day did not constitute incitement and that his statements were protected by the First Amendment.

“The United States has a long history of political protests that have turned violent,” attorneys for the former president and current GOP presidential frontrunner wrote. ”Nothing that President Trump did ‘engaged’ in ‘insurrection.’”

Trump’s lawyers also argue that even if he was deemed to have taken part in an insurrection, Congress has the clear power under the Constitution to waive the bar on insurrectionists holding office, so he should remain on the ballot nationwide in the meantime.

Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court was expected. The Colorado Republican Party separately appealed the decision last week, similarly arguing that only Congress — and not state courts or individual election officials — can invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to declare candidates ineligible.

The Civil War-era provision states that people are disqualified from holding office if they “engaged in insurrection” after taking an oath to “support the Constitution.” Congress can lift the disqualification by a two-thirds vote of each chamber, though there is no serious effort in Congress to do so in Trump’s case.

Trump’s filing argues that the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to the office of the presidency and that the oath he took when he was sworn in as president did not count as one of the oaths mentioned in the amendment.

Voters and advocacy groups have mounted numerous challenges to Trump’s eligibility across the country, asking state courts and state election officials to strip him from their 2024 ballots. So far, two states — Colorado and Maine — have ruled that Trump is disqualified, though both rulings are on hold while Trump pursues his appeals.

Most legal experts expect that the Supreme Court will have to resolve the thorny constitutional issue and clarify whether Trump can run in the general election if he wins the GOP nomination. But the high court has not yet committed to hearing the case — much less indicated how fast it will act if it does choose to hear it.

Both the Colorado GOP and the Colorado voters challenging Trump’s eligibility — who were backed by the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — have urged the Supreme Court to take up the case on a highly expedited timeline.

In the meantime, Trump will likely appear on the ballot in the Colorado Republican primary, which is scheduled for March 5, or Super Tuesday. The Colorado Supreme Court paused its decision while the expected appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court play out. The Colorado secretary of state has until Friday to certify the candidates on the ballot. Election officials would then need to prepare, print out and mail those ballots to voters in the predominantly vote-by-mail state.

Trump is also contesting the Maine decision that deemed him ineligible to run in that state. His appeal there, filed in state court on Tuesday, advanced similar arguments to the one his legal team laid out in its petition to the Supreme Court Wednesday.

While it’s unclear how soon the justices will act on the petitions from Trump and the Colorado GOP, they are scheduled to hold a closed-door conference on Friday.

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