Historic Decision Sets Up Showdown in U.S. Supreme Court
The Colorado Supreme Court, whose justices were all appointed by Democratic governors, has made history by invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to disqualify former President Donald Trump from the presidential race. This marks the first time that this provision has been used to exclude a candidate for the highest office in the country. The decision, reached by a 4-3 majority, will likely lead to a legal battle in the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether Trump can continue his campaign for the GOP nomination.
Justices’ Educational Background and Dissenting Opinions
Notably, the three dissenting justices, who graduated from the University of Denver’s law school, raised objections to the decision. Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright, along with Justices Maria E. Berkenkotter and Carlos Samour, argued that due process should be followed before disqualifying a candidate from holding public office. They emphasized that procedural fairness is essential, even in cases where candidates may have committed serious offenses.
Partisan Divide and Reaction from House Republican Conference Chair
The four justices who ruled in favor of the plaintiffs were Richard L. Gabriel, Melissa Hart, Monica Márquez, and William W. Hood III. Meanwhile, criticism has been directed towards the nation’s prestigious universities for their alleged failure to address issues like antisemitism on campuses. Elise Stefanik, the House Republican Conference Chair, expressed her strong disapproval of the Colorado ruling, accusing the four justices of being “partisan Democrat operatives.”
Implications and Potential Challenges Ahead
While Trump’s loss in Colorado during the 2020 election may seem inconsequential, there is concern that this ruling could set a precedent for other courts and election officials in must-win states to exclude him from future elections. Numerous lawsuits have been filed across the country seeking to disqualify Trump under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was enacted to prevent former Confederates from holding public office. This provision has only been invoked a handful of times since the Civil War era.
The Colorado Case and its Background
The left-leaning group Citizens for Responsibility brought the case on behalf of six Colorado Republican and unaffiliated voters. In a November hearing, District Judge Sarah B. Wallace found that Trump had indeed “engaged in insurrection” by inciting the January 6th Capitol riot. However, she did not bar him from the ballot, citing uncertainty about whether Section 3 applied to the presidency. Trump’s attorneys appealed this ruling, arguing that the former president was exercising his right to free speech and had not called for violence.
The Colorado Supreme Court has overturned Wallace’s decision but has stayed its ruling until January 4th or until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on the case. Colorado election officials stress the urgency of resolving the issue by January 5th, the deadline for printing presidential primary ballots.
(This news article contains information from the Associated Press.)