On Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court, in a 4-3 majority verdict, barred former President Donald Trump from the Colorado primary ballot, citing the rarely invoked ‘insurrection’ clause of the US Constitution and deeming him ‘ineligible’ for the White House. The judges, all appointed by Democratic governors, held Trump responsible for the events of January 6, 2021, when his supporters stormed the US Capitol.
The court’s ruling under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was described as a decision made “without fear or favor” and emphasized the weightiness of the questions. Justices Richard L. Gabriel, Melissa Hart, Monica Márquez, and Hood wrote the majority verdict, overturning a district court judge’s earlier ruling.
“We do not reach these conclusions lightly…We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favour, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach,” the court stated.
The decision, however, comes with a temporary stay until January 4, 2024, allowing Trump a two-week window to appeal the verdict in the US Supreme Court.
Trump’s spokesperson, Alina Habba, condemned the ruling, stating, “This ruling, issued by the Colorado Supreme Court, attacks the very heart of this nation’s democracy. It will not stand, and we trust that the Supreme Court will reverse this unconstitutional order.”
Republican leader Elise Stefanik criticized the decision, saying, “Four partisan Democrat operatives on the Colorado Supreme Court think they get to decide for all Coloradans and Americans the next presidential election.”
US Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, of Indian origin, vowed to withdraw from the Colorado Republican primary ballot, urging fellow candidates like Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, and Nikki Haley to follow suit.
The ruling sets a precedent that could potentially lead other state supreme courts to bar Trump from primary ballots. Notably, the US Supreme Court, with a current 6-3 conservative majority, remains the final avenue for appeal.
Currently, Trump is actively participating in the presidential race and is seen as a formidable candidate against his potential Democratic rival, Joe Biden.
CNN legal analyst Elie Honig said that the ruling has excluded Donald Trump from the Colorado ballot in the 2024 presidential race.
Honig said that the unprecedented nature of the Supreme Court’s involvement, noting, “This is a historic decision, a momentous decision, as the Supreme Court itself says they are in uncharted territory.”
Despite the significance of the ruling, Honig underscores that it is not the final verdict, anticipating that the case is bound to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Colorado Supreme Court, cognizant of this possibility, has temporarily withheld its ruling until January 4.
Reflecting on the broader context of similar challenges nationwide, Honig said, “18 or so of them have failed, been rejected, or been withdrawn by the plaintiff.” He said that the Supreme Court will have the ultimate say in this pivotal legal battle.