Updated Dec 19, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Colorado Supreme Court removes Trump from state's ballot

Former President Trump on Dec. 17 in Reno, Nevada. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that former President Trump cannot appear on the state's ballots in next year's presidential election.

Why it matters: It's the first time a court has found that the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause applies to Trump in relation to his actions surrounding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The Trump campaign said it would file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

State of play: The court stayed the ruling from taking effect until Jan. 4, "subject to further appellate proceedings."

  • The Colorado case is one of roughly three dozen across the country seeking to remove Trump, who is currently facing four criminal indictments, from the ballot through the largely untested insurrection clause.
  • The state's high court questioned whether Section 3 of the 14th Amendment covers the presidency and whether the insurrection rose to that level.
  • It comes after a lower court opinion allowed Trump to remain on the Colorado ballot.

Between the lines: The seven members of the court, who were all appointed by Democratic governors, appeared skeptical about reaching such a conclusion during oral arguments on Dec. 6, Axios Denver's John Frank notes.

  • The majority opinion on Tuesday acknowledged the weight of the decision, saying: "We do not reach these conclusions lightly."

Context: Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that no one should hold office in the U.S. if they "have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the [U.S.], or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

Of note: Moments after the Colorado Supreme Court ruling, the Trump campaign sent out a fund-raising email on the matter, which included a rolling "breaking news" chyron:

A screenshot of a Trump campaign fund-raising email seeking to raise money off the Colorado Supreme Court's decision to remove him off he ballot, saying in part: "Patriot,  State Supreme Court judges ALL appointed by Democrats just REMOVED my name from the 2024 ballot in Colorado.  The Soros-funded Democrats who incited the lawsuit will immediately use this tyrannical ruling to challenge us in the remaining 49 states.  Crooked Joe and the Democrats know they can’t beat us at the ballot box, so their new plan is to nullify every single “Trump ballot” in the nation to keep Biden in the White House.  Make no mistake: WE WILL APPEAL THIS DECISION IMMEDIATELY.  We will take this fight all the way to the UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT.  Please make a contribution to join the fight to keep my name on the 2024 ballot and peacefully defend YOUR right to vote."
Photo: Trump campaign

What they're saying: Trump lawyer Alina Habba said in a statement on Tuesday night that the Colorado Supreme Court ruling "attacks the very heart of this nation's democracy," adding: "It will not stand, and we trust that the Supreme Court will reverse this unconstitutional order."

  • Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung in a statement earlier in the evening said Democratic Party leaders in Colorado were "in a state of paranoia over the growing, dominant lead President Trump has amassed in the polls."
  • He accused the Colorado Supreme Court of issuing "a completely flawed decision" and said the former president's team will "swiftly file an appeal" to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • "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 added.

Go deeper: States look to see if 14th Amendment can be used to disqualify Trump — but it has risks

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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