“No person shall … hold any office … under the United States …, who, having previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion…, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” U.S. Const. amend. XIV, §3.
In recent legal developments, the interplay between the Fourteenth Amendment and the electoral process has taken center stage in a case involving former President Donald Trump and the Colorado Supreme Court. This complex and intriguing legal battle has profound implications for American democracy. Let’s delve into the specifics.
The legal saga unfolds against the backdrop of the 2024 presidential election, a period already marked by heightened political tensions. President Trump finds himself entangled in a dispute with the Colorado Supreme Court over application of the Fourteenth Amendment, a cornerstone of American civil rights.
A group of Electors eligible to vote in the upcoming Colorado Republican primary election requested that the Colorado Secretary of State be prohibited from placing President Trump’s name on the presidential primary ballot. They claim that Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment disqualifies President Trump from seeking the presidency. More specifically, they asserted that he is ineligible under Section Three because he engaged in “insurrection” on January 6, 2021, after swearing an oath as President to support the U.S. Constitution.
The district court concluded that the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, constituted an “insurrection” within the meaning of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. It also concluded that he “engaged in” that insurrection through his personal actions and that his speech inciting the crowd that breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was not protected by the First Amendment.
The Colorado Supreme Court concluded that Trump engaged in an “insurrection” because he spent months falsely claiming that the 2020 election was “rigged.” He encouraged his supporters to “fight,” suggesting that Democrats would “fight to the death” if the shoe were on the other foot. And Trump named then-Vice President Mike Pence as someone who should be targeted by the pro-Trump mob that invaded the Capitol. https://www.vox.com/scotus/2024/1/3/24022580/supreme-court-donald-trump-ballot-insurrection-fourteenth-amendment-colorado-anderson
The Colorado GOP initially argued that the question of whether Trump should be removed from the 2024 ballot must be deferred until, at least, after he is convicted of a crime or otherwise determined to have engaged in insurrection by a federal trial court.
Last Wednesday, in a Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed through Cockle, the Colorado GOP asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the question of whether Trump may run for reelection. Trump has also filed his own Petition as an intervenor below, asking a straightforward question on which the Court will undoubtedly grant cert.: “Did the Colorado Supreme Court err in ordering President Trump excluded from the 2024 presidential primary ballot?”
Trump’s lawyers write: “For the first time in American history, a former President has been disqualified from the ballot, a political party has been denied the opportunity to put forward the presidential candidate of its choice, and the voters have been denied the ability to choose their Chief Executive through the electoral process.”
In a similar ruling last week, Maine’s Secretary of State removed Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot citing the Constitution’s insurrection clause.
The interplay of Trump, the courts, and the Fourteenth Amendment poses fundamental questions about the constitutional foundations of our democracy and the ongoing quest for a fair and just electoral system. As proceedings unfold, it serves as a poignant reminder that the principles enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment continue to shape the contours of our democracy. Stay tuned to the Cockle blog for continuing coverage.