Updated Mar 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rules Trump can appear on Colorado ballot


Former President Trump on Feb. 10 in Conway, South Carolina. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Trump cannot be barred from Colorado's primary ballot under the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday.

Why it matters: It's a major win for the GOP presidential frontrunner and paves the way for him to appear on the ballot nationwide, despite facing eligibility challenges in dozens of states.

  • The court's decision comes a day before Super Tuesday, when more than a dozen states including Colorado will hold primary contests.

Driving the news: "Because the Constitution makes Congress, rather than the States, responsible for enforcing Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates, we reverse," the Supreme Court wrote in the decision.

  • The justices agreed unanimously that "states have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency."

The court also warned of chaos from "conflicting state outcomes," if a candidate could be removed from the ballot in some states, but not others.

  • "Nothing in the Constitution requires that we endure such chaos – arriving at any time or different times, up to and perhaps beyond the inauguration," the per curiam ruling said.

Between the lines: The court's three liberal justices argued in a concurring opinion that the decision went too far.

  • Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote that the decision could "insulate" Trump from "future controversy."
  • "We cannot join an opinion that decides momentous and difficult issues unnecessarily, and we therefore concur only in the judgment," they wrote.

The big picture: In addition to Colorado, Maine had also moved to bar Trump from its ballot over his role in the Capitol riot. The rulings were paused pending the Supreme Court's decision.

  • The former president's ballot eligibility has been challenged in more than 30 states using the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause.

What he's saying: During remarks from Mar-a-Lago later on Monday, Trump praised the court for the " very important decision" that he said was "well-crafted."

  • "They worked long, they worked hard and frankly, they worked very quickly on something that will be spoken about 100 years from now and 200 years from now, extremely important."
  • Trump also touched on his claim of absolute immunity from prosecution, which the Supreme Court is scheduled to weigh. "Presidents have to be given total immunity," he said.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold wrote in a post on X that she was "disappointed" in the court's decision.

  • "Colorado should be able to bar oath-breaking insurrections from our ballot," she said.

Zoom in: The Supreme Court agreed in January to take up Trump's appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court's December ruling that the former president was ineligible to appear on the ballot.

  • The argument centered on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which 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."
  • SCOTUS justices across the ideological spectrum had appeared skeptical of states' ability to disqualify Trump using the clause during arguments last month.

Go deeper: Trump hopes semantics will save him at the Supreme Court

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from Trump, Griswold and additional details from the court's ruling.

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