Trump barred from Colorado ballot for role in attack on US Capitol

Trump barred from Colorado ballot for role in attack on US Capitol
Trump barred from Colorado ballot for role in attack on US Capitol

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - The 4-3 ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court makes Trump the first presidential candidate in US history to be deemed ineligible for the White House under a rarely used provision of the US Constitution that bars officials who have engaged in 'insurrection or rebellion' from holding office. ― Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Dec 20 ― Former president Donald Trump cannot appear on the ballot in Colorado in next year's presidential election due to his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters, the state's top court ruled yesterday in a historic judgment that is likely to find its way to the US Supreme Court.

The 4-3 ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court makes Trump the first presidential candidate in US history to be deemed ineligible for the White House under a rarely used provision of the US Constitution that bars officials who have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding office.

The court concluded that the US Constitution bars the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2024 from appearing on the ballot because of his role instigating violence against the US government.

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“We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” the majority justices wrote. “We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favour, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.”

“We are also cognizant that we travel in uncharted territory, and that this case presents several issues of first impression.”

The Colorado court said the ruling is stayed until January 4, 2024, to allow for appeals.

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Trump's campaign called the court decision “flawed” and “undemocratic,” and said it would be appealed.

“The Colorado Supreme Court issued a completely flawed decision tonight and we will swiftly file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court and a concurrent request for a stay of this deeply undemocratic decision,” a spokesperson from the Trump campaign said.

One of the dissenting justices, Carlos Samour, said in a lengthy opinion that a lawsuit is not a fair mechanism for determining Trump’s eligibility for the ballot because it deprives him of his right to due process, noting that a jury has not convicted him of insurrection.

“Even if we are convinced that a candidate committed horrible acts in the past ― dare I say, engaged in insurrection ― there must be procedural due process before we can declare that individual disqualified from holding public office,” Samour said.

Victory for advocacy groups

The ruling applies only to the state's March 5 Republican primary, but its conclusion would likely also affect Trump’s status for the November 5 general election. Nonpartisan US election forecasters view Colorado as safely Democratic, meaning that President Joe Biden will likely carry the state regardless of Trump's fate.

The case was brought by a group of Colorado voters, aided by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, who argued that Trump should be disqualified for inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol in a failed attempt to obstruct the transfer of presidential power to Biden after the 2020 election.

CREW President Noah Bookbinder said in a statement that the court’s decision is “not only historic and justified, but is necessary to protect the future of democracy in our country.”

Trump's campaign has condemned 14th Amendment challenges as an attempt to deny millions of voters their preferred choice for president.

The decision is a victory for advocacy groups and anti-Trump voters who have mounted several similar legal challenges to Trump’s candidacy under section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was enacted after the Civil War. Courts have rejected several lawsuits seeking to keep Trump off the primary ballot in other states.

The decision reverses a ruling by a lower court judge who found Trump engaged in insurrection by inciting his supporters to violence, but, as president, Trump was not an “officer of the United States” who could be disqualified under the amendment.

A lawyer for Trump argued that the riot at the Capitol was not serious enough to qualify as an insurrection and that Trump’s remarks to his supporters in Washington that day were protected by his right to free speech. The lawyer contended that courts do not have the authority to order Trump removed from the ballot.

Advocates have hoped to use the case to boost a wider disqualification effort and potentially put the issue before the US Supreme Court.

The US Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority includes three Trump appointees. ― Reuters

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