Attorneys for former President Donald Trump on Wednesday appealed to the US Supreme Court a ruling from Colorado’s high court that would kick him off the 2024 Republican primary ballot.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Dec. 19 that the former president was ineligible to be certified on Jan. 5 for the state’s primary contest to be held two months later because he had participated in an “insurrection.”
The decision cited Trump’s attempts to overturn 2020 election results that led to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot as proof that he violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars those who have violated their oath of office and “engaged in insurrection” from governing again.
The state’s high court stayed their ruling — which marked the first time in American history a candidate has been removed from a primary based on the insurrection clause — pending a decision by the US Supreme Court to take up the case.
On Wednesday, the Colorado Republican Party appealed the ruling to the nation’s high court, saying in a 45-page filing that the national party “has been irreparably harmed by the decision” to disqualify Trump, 77, from his White House run.
“The state has interfered in the primary election by unreasonably restricting the Party’s ability to select its candidates,” reads the petition filed on behalf of the state party by the nonprofit American Center for law and Justice.
“As a natural and inevitable result, the state has interfered with the Party’s ability to place on the general election ballot the candidate of its choice. And it has done so based on a subjective claim of insurrection the state lacks any constitutional authority to make.”
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold confirmed the following day that Trump would also remain on the 2024 primary ballot until Jan. 4, when the state Supreme Court’s stay on their ruling ends.
The Colorado high court referenced in its ruling a prior decision from Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who oversees appeals from the 10th Circuit of the federal judiciary, including Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.
Asked for his opinion the day after the decision, President Biden said it was “self-evident” that Trump was an “insurrectionist” but that he was “not going to comment on a court case.”
“Is Trump an insurrectionist?” one reporter asked him as he prepared to board Air Force One before his holiday retreat.
“Well, I think certain things are self-evident,” he responded. “You saw it all. Now whether the 14th Amendment applies, I’ll let the court make that decision.
Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled against a similar case seeking to disqualify Trump earlier this week.
The brief, unsigned order upheld lower courts’ rulings and said the justices were “not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court.”
Only one Michigan Supreme Court justice, Elizabeth Welch, dissented, arguing her colleagues should have ruled on the merits of the petition rather than its jurisdiction.
Welch also said the plaintiffs should have been allowed “to renew their legal efforts as to the Michigan general election later in 2024 should Trump become the Republican nominee for President of the United States or seek such office as an independent candidate.”
Michigan will hold its GOP primary on Feb. 27, while Colorado will hold its on March 5, the day after Trump is expected to appear in Washington, DC, federal court over his four-count indictment related to the events of Jan. 6.
In that case, special counsel Jack Smith charged the former president with obstructing an official proceeding but not under the Constitution’s 14th Amendment prohibition against “insurrection.”
Smith had petitioned the Supreme Court to quickly consider Trump’s defense that he maintained presidential immunity for actions he took to challenge election results while in office after the former president’s attorneys appealed a lower court ruling on the matter.
But the justices denied the petition for an expedited decision, all but guaranteeing that the case will not head to trial on March 4, the day before Super Tuesday, when several state primary contests are held.
Trump’s attorneys had already appealed an earlier district court ruling that denied a motion to dismiss the case based on presidential immunity powers, an argument that must now make its way through the appellate courts.
The former president is also battling decisions in other states such as Maine to keep him off the 2024 Republican ticket.