A weeklong trial will begin in Colorado Monday to determine whether former President Donald Trump can run for president under the 14th Amendment, the first in a series of legal challenges that’s expected to continue across the country as the ex-president’s critics seek to have him disqualified for being an “insurrectionist.”
Left-leaning ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) brought a lawsuit on behalf of Colorado voters, which seeks to have Trump disqualified from the state’s 2024 ballot under section three of the 14th Amendment.
The 14th Amendment prohibits people from holding public office who have taken an oath of office and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the [U.S.]
, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof,” which the plaintiffs argue Trump did by trying to overturn the 2020 election, claiming he “summoned, incited, and aided” the Capitol rioters on January 6, 2021.
Trump has strongly opposed the lawsuit, arguing he did not violate the 14th Amendment, the lawsuit infringes on his freedom of speech and that even if he had violated the amendment, only Congress could decide whether to disqualify him from the presidency.
Colorado state court Judge Sarah Wallace denied multiple motions to dismiss the case, paving the way for Monday’s hearing.
The Colorado hearing is expected to continue through Friday, with a ruling likely to come by mid-November.
The case is being heard by a district court in Colorado, so it could still be appealed to the state Supreme Court (and then potentially the U.S. Supreme Court after that).
What To Watch For
In addition to the Colorado case, the Minnesota Supreme Court will also hear oral arguments Thursday in a separate but similar case concerning the legality of Trump’s candidacy in that state. The court will issue its ruling “as soon as possible,” which is required under state law, but the Washington Post notes the state Supreme Court could decide to send the case down to a lower court first. Multiple lawsuits are also moving forward in Michigan challenging Trump’s candidacy in the battleground state, though it’s unclear when those will be resolved.
What We Don’t Know
How the legal battle to disqualify Trump under the 14th Amendment will play out. Legal experts and state officials have said they expect the issue to ultimately be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court, though scholars cited by the Post said it’s likely justices would only take up a case if any state actually rules against Trump and kicks him off the ballot. State officials, including Democratic secretaries of state in Michigan, Colorado and Minnesota, have all said they don’t believe they have the power to kick Trump off the ballot in their states without a court order forcing them to. While the legal issue could continue to play out through next summer, when the Republican National Convention takes place and the general election will kick off in earnest, election officials have urged courts to rule before ballots are finalized in the primary elections, with Colorado officials saying the litigation in that state must be resolved by a “hard deadline” of January 5 in order for ballots to be printed.
51. That’s the share of respondents in a September Politico/Morning Consult poll who said the 14th Amendment disqualifies Trump from the presidency, versus 34% who said it does not.
“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,” CREW wrote in its Colorado lawsuit. “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.”
Trump has decried the effort to kick him off the ballot as “nonsense” and “election interference,” saying in a September radio interview, “This is like a banana republic.” When asked why he believed challenges were being brought against him, Trump responded, “Because they know they’re not going to beat me.”
The question of whether Trump can be disqualified under the 14th Amendment has become a growing issue in recent months, with a number of legal scholars weighing in—and even some conservative scholars arguing the case against him has merit. Lawsuits challenging Trump’s candidacy have also been brought in Florida—which ultimately failed—and by John Castro, who plans to be a write-in candidate for president as a Republican and has filed multiple lawsuits against Trump, some of which have already been unsuccessful. Prior to the 2024 election, the 14th Amendment was also invoked during the 2022 midterms, including against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.)—which ultimately failed—and former Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), whose case was ultimately mooted after he lost his primary race. Couy Griffin, a local commissioner in New Mexico, was removed from office and barred from being elected again, marking the first time the 14th Amendment had been used to remove someone since 1869.
How Trump critics hope to use the 14th Amendment to kick him off ballots (Washington Post)