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Trump included on Colorado primary ballot for now despite court ruling

By Jake Beardslee · December 28, 2023

In brief…

  • Colorado GOP appeals to U.S. Supreme Court to restore Trump to primary ballot after state court ruling
  • State court said 14th Amendment ban on insurrectionists bars Trump due to Jan. 6 conduct
  • Colorado Secretary of State will still include Trump on ballot for now pending U.S. Supreme Court decision
  • Appeal comes after conflicting ruling in Michigan; increases pressure on U.S. Supreme Court
  • State court found Trump encouraged violence to disrupt peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 6
The Colorado Republican Party appealed a state Supreme Court ruling removing Trump from the 2024 primary ballot under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing it violates their First Amendment rights.  Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

The Colorado Republican Party filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking to overturn a state Supreme Court ruling that removed former President Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential primary ballot. The state court had ruled that Trump was ineligible for the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars those who engaged in insurrection from holding public office.

The Colorado GOP argued that excluding Trump from the ballot was an “unprecedented disregard for the First Amendment right of political parties to select the candidates of their choice and a usurpation of the rights of the people to choose their elected officials.” They claimed the state court incorrectly applied the 14th Amendment ban to presidents when the office is not explicitly mentioned. The party also contended that only Congress, not courts or state officials, can enforce Section 3.

Despite the appeal, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced Trump will be included on the Jan. 5 ballot certification deadline. This would only change if the U.S. Supreme Court affirms the state court ruling or declines to take the case. The Colorado primary is March 5.

The appeal comes after the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a similar lawsuit seeking to remove Trump from the ballot there based on the 14th Amendment. The conflicting outcomes increase pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to provide guidance on applying Section 3.

In a 4-3 December 19 decision, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, 2021 amounted to insurrection, making him ineligible under the 14th Amendment ban. The majority wrote Trump “incited and encouraged the use of violence and lawless action to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”

The Colorado GOP argues removing Trump violates its First Amendment associational rights. But the state court said ballot access is limited to qualified candidates and this is a reasonable regulation.