Trump is disqualified because he participated in an insurrection against the U.S. government, the court ruled, that insurrection being his supporters’ riot January 6, 2021, at the Capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says no one who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and then engages in an insurrection is eligible to hold public office.
The Colorado Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote, overturned a lower court’s ruling, which had held that Trump was indeed involved in the insurrection but that the Fourteenth Amendment section didn’t apply to presidents. A group of Colorado voters had filed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s eligibility.
“President Trump is disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three; because he is disqualified, it would be a wrongful act under the Election Code for the [Colorado secretary of state] to list him as a candidate on the presidential primary ballot,” the ruling states.
Trump's threat to democracy
Trump can appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which he is expected to do. “Tuesday’s ruling applies only to Colorado, but if the [U.S.] Supreme Court were to affirm it, he could be disqualified more broadly,” The New York Times notes.
The ruling is on hold until January 4 to allow for appeals. Appeals have to be finished by the next day, when the Colorado secretary of state must certify ballots for the March 5 primary election.
The Colorado high court is the first to find Trump disqualified from holding office, but his eligibility is being challenged in several other states. Suits have been dismissed in Minnesota and Wisconsin. A trial court and an appeals court in Michigan have ruled that the issue is a political one and not for courts to decide, but that ruling is on appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.
Trump was not at the Capitol when his supporters stormed it, but he held a rally beforehand at which he encouraged them to go there and stop the vote certification, as he claimed the election was stolen from him. “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them,” he said.
He also called on Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the certification, were to “do the right thing” and refuse to affirm Biden’s victory. Pence concluded that he had no power to do so, and the certification went on after being interrupted by the rioters, who chanted “Hang Mike Pence.” At least seven people died as a result of the riot, according to a U.S. Senate report, and hundreds were injured.
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