The Supreme Court agreed to take up whether former President Trump can be disqualified from appearing on Colorado’s ballot over his actions surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, setting up a historic case that could upend the presidential election.
The justices’ order sets the case up to be heard at a speedy pace, with oral arguments scheduled for Feb. 8 and a decision to follow that could spark Trump’s removal from the ballot in states across the country.
Dozens of challenges to Trump’s eligibility under the 14th Amendment have been filed nationwide, though many cases have been rejected by lower courts.
But two states — Colorado and Maine — last month took the extraordinary step of removing Trump from the primary ballot.
Although those rulings remain on hold until Trump’s appeals are resolved, enabling his name to remain on the ballot in the meantime, the justices’ decision to hear the Colorado case equips the high court to provide a national resolution in advance of the general election.
Trump’s political fate now lies in the hands of the conservative-majority court, which includes three Trump appointees and has never squarely resolved the meaning of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban.
“We welcome a fair hearing at the Supreme Court to argue against the bad-faith, election-interfering, voter-suppressing, Democrat-backed and Biden-led, 14th Amendment abusing decision to remove President Trump’s name from the 2024 ballot in the state of Colorado,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement.
The clause prohibits someone from holding “any office … under the United States” if they “engaged in insurrection” after taking an oath to support the Constitution.
It was ratified after the Civil War and originally designed to keep Confederates from returning to federal office. After falling largely dormant for decades, anti-Trump plaintiffs have contended the then-president’s actions surrounding the Capitol riot amounted to insurrection and should disqualify him from seeking a second White House term.
In Colorado, four Republican and two independent voters backed by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Trump from the primary ballot.
In a 4-3 decision, the Colorado Supreme Court sided with them and last month became the first to issue a decision that, if allowed to stand, would disqualify Trump from appearing on the state’s ballot.
All parties in the case — Trump, the Colorado Republican Party, the Colorado secretary of state and the plaintiffs who won — agreed the U.S. Supreme Court should take up the case given the significance of the issues, citing a need for a national consensus.
“The Colorado Supreme Court has no authority to deny President Trump access to the ballot. By doing so, the Colorado Supreme Court has usurped Congressional authority and misinterpreted and misapplied the text of section 3,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in court filings.
But they split on how fast the high court should consider the case and what legal questions it should resolve.
In Maine, Trump is appealing in state court Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’s (D) decision that would knock the former president off the primary ballot. The case could reach the justices within weeks.
“President Trump is dominating the polls, and the Biden presidency has failed all Americans,” Cheung said in his statement. “We are confident that the fair-minded Supreme Court will unanimously affirm the civil rights of President Trump, and the voting rights of all Americans in a ruling that will squash all of the remaining ballot challenge hoaxes once and for all.”
Updated at 6:03 p.m.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.