A group of Colorado voters filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in an effort to keep former President Donald Trump off the state’s ballot. They claim he is ineligible to hold public office due to a rarely applied clause in the 14th Amendment.
The move comes just days after a federal judge appointed by former then-President Barack Obama ruled in Trump’s favor in one case involving the 14th Amendment.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed the lawsuit in state court in Denver on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated voters who are contesting Trump’s inclusion as a candidate for the Republican presidential primary in 2024 and any subsequent ballots.
“The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that Trump, the current frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, is disqualified for public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and therefore constitutionally ineligible to appear on any Colorado ballot. They also want the court to block Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold from taking any action that would allow Trump access to the ballot,” CBS News reported.
“Four years after taking an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution as President of the United States, Trump tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 election, leading to a violent insurrection at the United States Capitol to stop the lawful transfer of power to his successor,” the 115-page lawsuit states. “By instigating this unprecedented assault on the American constitutional order, Trump violated his oath and disqualified himself under the Fourteenth Amendment from holding public office, including the Office of the President.”
As stated in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868 following the Civil War, “no person shall be a senator or representative in Congress” or “hold any office, civil or military,” if they have “engaged in insurrection, or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
CBS News reported: “The disqualification provision was meant to keep former Confederate officers and officials from holding public office again unless they received permission from Congress to do so. The measure has seldom been invoked over the last 150 years, and never against a former president. But in September 2022, a New Mexico state court judge ordered Couy Griffin, founder of the group Cowboys for Trump, to be stripped of his position as a county commissioner and prohibited from holding any federal or state office under Section 3 because he engaged in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.”
The Colorado case, which appears to be one of the first to try to bar Trump from running for public office again, will test the applicability of Section 3. Additionally, it might eventually bring Trump’s eligibility to run for president in 2024 before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Earlier in the week, a Florida attorney filed a challenge to keep the former president of the state’s election ballot citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
Palm Beach tax attorney Lawrence Caplan filed the motion in federal court, The Palm Beach Post reported.
“The bottom line here is that President Trump both engaged in an insurrection and also gave aid and comfort to other individuals who were engaging in such actions, within the clear meaning of those terms as defined in Section Three of the 14th Amendment,” the attorney said. “Assuming that the public record to date is accurate, and we have no evidence to the contrary, Trump is no longer eligible to seek the office of the President of the United States, or of any other state of the Union.”
Obama-appointed federal Judge Robin L. Rosenberg said that the tax attorney did not have standing to bring the case.
“Plaintiffs lack standing to challenge defendant’s qualifications for seeking the presidency, as the injuries alleged are not cognizable and not particular to them,” the judge said.
The former president’s spokesperson responded to the efforts to ABC News.
“Joe Biden, Democrats, and Never Trumpers are scared to death because they see polls showing President Trump winning in the general election,” Steven Chung said to ABC News. “The people who are pursuing this absurd conspiracy theory and political attack on President Trump are stretching the law beyond recognition, much like the political prosecutors in New York, Georgia, and DC. There is no legal basis for this effort … ”
Meanwhile, several state secretaries of state are also having conversations with each other about keeping the former president off the ballots for both the primary and general elections, ABC News reported.
“In an interview with ABC News, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said that she and other secretaries of state from Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Maine started having conversations over a year ago about preparing for the legal challenges to Trump’s candidacy,” the report said.
“I’m talking every day with colleagues about this. We’re all recognizing that our decisions that we make may in some cases be the first but won’t be the last, and there may be multiple decision points throughout the course of the election cycle,” she said. “So, I think the public needs to be prepared for this to be an ongoing issue, that it has several resolution points and evolution points throughout the cycle.”