Lawsuit Seeks to Exclude Trump from Colorado’s Primary Ballot

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On a brisk Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed by a liberal faction with the purpose of excluding Donald Trump, the former President of the United States, from Colorado’s primary ballot. The lawsuit suggested Trump’s ineligibility to vie for presidency again, based on a seldom-invoked clause in the U.S. Constitution targeting candidates who have aligned with an “insurrection.”

The claim, which is predicated on the 14th Amendment, is projected to be the initial move in a legal confrontation which seems fated to culminate at the U.S. Supreme Court. This noteworthy lawsuit was lodged for the benefit of six Republican and independent Colorado voters by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

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This development comes as a prodigious shakeup to an already turbulent 2024 primary campaign, with the leading Republican candidate currently ensnared in four separate legal disputes.

Some liberal groups have called for state election chiefs to disqualify Trump under this stipulation that bars anyone who had “engaged in an insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution from occupying any higher office. As of yet, no officials have taken that step, awaiting judicial guidance on this seldom-invoked clause, which has only been used a handful of occasions since the 1860s.

The litigation filed on Wednesday boldly stands as the first undertaken by a group possessing significant legal power and resources. This revelation possibly paves the way for synonymous challenges in other states, propelling the potential for divergent rulings that would necessitate Supreme Court intervention.

Hopeful for guidance on Trump’s eligibility as a candidate, Jena Griswold, Colorado’s Secretary of State, expressed her anticipation for the case. The lawsuit filed posits that the case is rather straightforward considering the former President’s attempts to invalidate his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, as well as his backing for the storming of the U.S Capitol on January 6, 2021. However, the Republican rebuts such accusations, maintaining he did nothing wrong in his actions.

The 14th Amendment that this case revolves around was codified in 1868, principally to assure civil rights for emancipated slaves — and eventually for everyone in the United States. But it also served as a deterrent to prevent ex-Confederate officials from running for Congress in the aftermath of the Civil war and reclaiming the government against which they had recently revolted against.

Although the clause in question does empower Congress to lift the ban, this authority was only exercised once in 1872, after which the political determination to continue barring former Confederates gradually evaporated, and the provision remained almost untouched.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, in its formal complaint, urged the court to expedite proceedings, aiming for a resolution before the state’s primary ballot is established on January 5, 2024.

And while the 14th Amendment was used last year to prevent a New Mexico county commissioner who entered the U.S. Capitol on January 6 from holding office, its use in this context marks the first instance in 100 years. In 1919, it was invoked to prevent a socialist from joining Congress, on the grounds of aiding the country’s enemies during World War I. Nevertheless, Donald Trump’s spokesperson has yet to comment on the ongoing lawsuit.

Previously, another liberal aggregate, Free Speech For People, attempted to leverage this provision to bar Republican Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina from running for reelection last year, but failed in their efforts. The judge presiding over Greene’s case ruled in her favor, while Cawthorn’s became irrelevant following his defeat in the primary.