Colorado case using ‘insurrection’ argument to bar Trump from the ballot goes to the judge
On Wednesday, a Colorado judge heard the closing arguments in the case of former President Donald Trump. The provision in the U.S. Constitution prohibiting those who have “engaged in rebellion” from holding public office.
The hearing followed two other losses for those trying to remove Trump’s name from the ballot. Section Three of 14th Amendment bars from office anyone who took an oath upholding the U.S. Constitution, but then “engaged” in rebellion against it. This measure was only used a few times after the Civil War to prevent former Confederates from flooding government positions.
The Minnesota Supreme Court avoided the question last week of whether this provision applied to Trump who has so far dominated the Republican primary. The court dismissed a suit to remove him from the state’s primaries ballot, saying that parties are free to choose who they want.
The court has left the door wide open for a challenge to the general election if Trump is the GOP nominee.
A Michigan judge dismissed a second lawsuit Tuesday that sought to remove Trump from the state’s primaries ballot. The ruling was more comprehensive. He said that whether or not the provision applied to the former President is a political question, which should be decided by Congress and not judges. Free Speech For People, the liberal group which filed the Michigan lawsuit, plans to appeal.
Scott Gessler, Trump’s attorney, told Colorado District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace in closing arguments that rulings from Minnesota and Michigan show “an emerging consensus” in the United States judiciary.
Gessler stated that the petitioners were asking the court to do something which had never been done before in the history the United States. The evidence does not allow the court to make this decision.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a left-leaning organization in Washington, also filed the Colorado suit. Many of the dozens of lawsuits filed in the United States were by individuals acting alone. They may not have even lived in the state that the complaint was lodged. Legal experts have deemed the Colorado, Michigan, and Minnesota cases as the most advanced. This is partly because of the legal resources that liberal groups are able to bring to bear.
Sean Grimsley from the Colorado plaintiffs’ lawyer, told the Judge during the Wednesday hearing that the evidence is clear.
He summarized their case by saying, “We’re here because for the first time ever in the history of our nation, the President of the United States has engaged in an insurrection.” “Now he wants be president again.” The Constitution forbids that.”
The Trump campaign called the lawsuits an “anti-democratic attempt” to prevent voters from making the choices they want in November. Wallace was appointed by Democratic Governor. Jared Polis asked Wallace to recuse her because she gave $100 to a liberal organization that called the Jan. 6 “violent insurrection.”
Wallace stated that she did not have a predetermined opinion on whether or not the Capitol attack met Section 3’s legal definition of insurrection and continued to follow the case.
There are several ways that the case could fail. Wallace, like Minnesota’s high court, might say she has no power in a primary, or defer, like Michigan’s judge, to the judgment of Congress. Trump’s lawyers and some legal experts argue that Section 3 was not meant to apply to the President and that Trump didn’t “engage” in rebellion on January 6 as intended by the 14th Amendment authors.
A lawyer for Colorado Secretary of state Jena Griswold urged a judge to not avoid constitutional issues by ruling that, like the Minnesota Supreme Court, she didn’t have the authority to remove someone from a primaries ballot.
Mike Kotlarczyk, state attorney general’s Office, said that voters select candidates using ballots. “Having candidates who are not eligible to hold the positions they seek defeats that purpose.”
He said Griswold was a Democrat and did not take a position on whether or not the provision disqualifies Trump, but that she would follow court direction.
The petitioners called in a legal expert who said that Section 3 was meant to be applied to anyone who helped the Confederate cause. This could have been as simple as buying bonds. They claimed that Trump “incited’ the attacks on Jan. 6, and they presented dramatic testimony by police officers who protected the Capitol against the rioters.
Gessler said that the Denver hearing, which lasted a week prior to Jan. 6, barely touched the surface of facts. He warned that there may be mitigating information for Trump, but the judge might not have heard it.
Gessler stated, “This is an important issue, and that hearing was small.”
Wallace has 48 hours after the conclusion of arguments to make a decision, but this deadline can be extended. What she decides will likely be appealed by the Colorado Supreme Court. The case could then be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Grimsley attempted to respond to Trump’s argument that disqualifying Trump would rob voters of their presidential choice.
Grimsley added that “the argument that Section 3 shouldn’t apply because Trump is so popular” could not be any more dangerous. “The rule-of-law must apply regardless of whether a candidate is in a position to win an election, or is a frontrunner.”