Former President Trump on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to overturn a Colorado court’s landmark ruling disqualifying him from the state’s 2024 Republican primary ballot under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban.
The appeal likely sets up an extraordinary battle at the nation’s highest court, which has never ruled on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. That clause, added after the Civil War, blocks anyone who swore an oath to “support” the U.S. Constitution but “engaged in insurrection” against it from holding federal office.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in December that Trump engaged in insurrection by inflaming his supporters with false claims of election fraud after the 2020 race and directing them to the Capitol on Jan. 6, barring him from appearing on the state’s primary ballot as he seeks a second term in the White House.
The state’s highest court also notably reversed a trial judge’s finding that the 14th Amendment didn’t apply to the presidency, writing that the presidential oath’s specific language “does not make it anything other than an oath to support the Constitution.”
“We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” the majority opinion reads. “We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us.”
The Colorado court had put its ruling on hold until this Thursday, so Trump could seek review from the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, the decision will be stayed until after the justices decide the case on the merits.
However, the deadline to finalize Colorado’s presidential primary ballots is Friday. It’s unlikely the Supreme Court will resolve Trump’s appeal before then, meaning he will likely appear on the primary ballots regardless.
Still, any decision by the justices stands to impact Trump’s White House bid in November’s general election — not only in Colorado, but in states nationwide.
The Colorado Republican Party last week separately appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, writing that if the state high court’s ruling is allowed to stand, it would distort the 2024 race and result in “nebulous accusations of insurrection.” The plaintiffs and the Colorado secretary of state agreed the high court should take the case, albeit only to consider a smaller set of issues.
However, just before the new year, Maine became the second state to disqualify Trump from the state’s Republican primary ballots. Trump appealed that ruling to state court on Tuesday, and the case could similarly reach the Supreme Court within weeks.
“The weight of the evidence makes clear that Mr. Trump was aware of the tinder laid by his multi-month effort to delegitimize a democratic election, and then chose to light a match,” Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, wrote in her decision.
Zach Schonfeld contributed.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.