Updated Jan 18, 2024 - Politics & Policy

178 Republicans urge Supreme Court to keep Trump on ballot

President Donald Trump speaks alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), as they hold a meeting about tax reform in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, September 5, 2017.

Then-President Trump with Sen. Mitch McConnell at the White House. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Republican lawmakers urged the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday to keep former President Trump on Colorado's 2024 ballot.

Driving the news: House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) announced a Supreme Court brief arguing against a decision by Colorado's highest court to remove Trump from the state's 2024 ballot, which was signed by 136 House Republicans and 42 GOP senators — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Catch up quick: The Colorado Supreme Court last month ruled that Republican presidential primary front-runner Trump cannot appear on the state's ballots in the 2024 presidential election.

Zoom out: In the years since the Capitol riot, some in the party have shifted their stance on the insurrection with prominent members softening their criticism in an apparent loyalty test to Trump.

  • The Supreme Court brief further highlights that shift, with those who signed it now expressing doubts about whether Jan. 6, 2021, was an insurrection.
  • Republican lawmakers wrote in the brief that under an interpretation of the insurrection clause, "a group invoking principles of justice to hinder any federal laws could be deemed insurrectionists."
  • They continued: "Such action may be illegal, but that is a far cry from insurrection."

What they're saying: The lawmakers argued that the Colorado Supreme Court's decision "encroaches on Congress's express powers" by allowing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to be enforced without their authorization and by concluding that it allows a state to remove a candidate from the ballot.

  • They also said the provision doesn't apply to Trump as "the President is never considered 'an officer of the United States.'"
  • Lastly, they claim the decision "lacks neutral principles and will lead to widespread de-balloting of political opponents."

Be smart: 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."

  • "But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability," the provision continues.

Go deeper: Trump urges Supreme Court to rule on Colorado ballot eligibility

Editor's note: This article and the headline have been updated to reflect that 136 House Republicans signed on to the Supreme Court amicus brief, in addition to 42 GOP senators.

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