Colorado District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace issued a ruling in Trump’s ballot eligibility case, ordering the Colorado Secretary of State to include Trump on the state’s primary ballot for next year.
The ruling is another victory for Trump after courts in Minnesota and Michigan this month rejected similar legal efforts to disqualify him from running for president in those states.
A group of Colorado voters filed a legal challenge to Trump’s candidacy in September, arguing that his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and his conduct surrounding the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which made him ineligible for office.
In his ruling, Wallace found that Trump engaged in an insurrection by inciting a riot on January 6, 2021, but that the president is not subject to Section 3 because he is not an “official of the United States.”
She disputed that Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment applied to Trump, noting that the clause in question explicitly lists all federal elected officials but does not include the president.
“While the Court agrees that there are persuasive arguments on both sides, the Court holds that the absence of the President from the list of offices to which the Amendment applies combined with the fact that Section Three specifies that the oath disqualifier is one to ‘support’ the Constitution, while the presidential oath is to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution,” Wallace wrote.
He added that “it seems to the Court that, for some reason, the drafters of Section Three did not intend to include a person who had only taken the presidential oath.”
A lawyer for the voting group that brought the legal challenge said they would appeal.
“The Court determined that Donald Trump engaged in an insurrection against the Constitution after a careful and exhaustive review of the evidence,” attorney Sean Grimsley said in a statement. “We are very pleased with the opinion and look forward to addressing the only legal question on appeal, namely whether Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to insurrectionary presidents. We believe so.”
A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday evening.
The lawsuit alleged that Trump “engaged in an insurrection or rebellion” after taking an oath to support and defend the Constitution and asked the court to declare that Trump is constitutionally ineligible to appear on any Colorado ballot for state or federal office. and to prohibit the appointment of Secretary of State. Jena Griswold allows his name to appear on future primary or general election ballots in the state.
wallace started listening arguments in the case last month, and closing arguments in the trial will take place Wednesday.
“Through his actions, and his actions alone, Donald Trump has disqualified himself from ever holding office,” Grimsley said in a closing argument on behalf of the petitioners.
The former president faces a series of efforts in other states to keep it off the ballot in 2024 for similar reasons. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last week that state law did not prohibit a major political party from including a candidate who was ineligible for office on the presidential primary nominating ballot, and a Michigan judge denied a similar effort on Tuesday, finding that the secretary of state lacked the authority to intervene.
In his closing argument, Trump attorney Scott Gessler highlighted those cases and said there is “an emerging consensus here within the judiciary across the United States.”
Senior electoral officials in Arizona, New Hampshire and in other places they are also weighing concerns similar to those raised in Colorado as they prepare the state ballots for next year’s Republican presidential primaries, where Trump leads the polls among Republican contenders.