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Colorado Supreme Court disqualifies Trump from primary ballot under 14th Amendment

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(The Center Square) – The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled former President Donald Trump should not appear on the state’s 2024 presidential primary ballot.

In a 4-3 decision, the state’s highest court ruled Trump is “disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” In a 213-page document, the justices, all appointed by Democrat governors, overruled a Colorado District Court decision by Judge Sarah Wallace stating Trump’s speech on Jan. 6 “incited imminent lawless violence” but didn’t meet the definition of “engagement” found in the 14th Amendment.

“We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” the Colorado Supreme Court 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 favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.”

Lawsuits in other states also seek to disqualify Trump from the presidential primary ballot but an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court could now be the deciding factor.

“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,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement on Tuesday.

Six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters filed a suit against Griswold on Sept. 6 to remove Trump from the ballot. When the district court ruled in favor of Trump, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C., said it would appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.

“I will continue to follow court guidance on this important issue,” Democratic Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said in a statement after the ruling.

The justices in the majority were Monica Marquez, William Hood III, Richard Gabriel and Melissa Hart. Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright, Carlos A. Samour and Maria E. Berkenkotter dissented.

Chief Justice Boatright wrote Colorado’s election code wasn’t “enacted to decide whether a candidate engaged in insurrection. In my view, this cause of action should have been dismissed.”

The ruling stated the court’s admission of 31 findings from the “Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol” was appropriate.

“Under the deferential standard of review that governs, we perceive no error by the district court in admitting portions of the report into evidence at trial,” the justices wrote.

The justices also wrote the definitions of “engaged in” and “insurrection” aren’t defined in the U.S. Constitution.

“Therefore, we must make a legal determination regarding what the drafters and ratifiers meant when they chose to deploy these words in Section Three,” the justices wrote. “Mindful of the deferential standard of review afforded a district court’s factual findings, we conclude that the district court did not clearly err in concluding that the events of January 6 constituted an insurrection and that President Trump engaged in that insurrection.”

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