Colorado Supreme Court strikes Trump from ballot

Plaintiffs in various US states are seeking to have Trump’s name removed from ballots for the 2024 presidential election. They are now having success in Colorado.

It is a ruling with potentially enormous consequences for next year’s election: According to the Supreme Court of the US state of Colorado, former US President Donald Trump is not suitable for the office of president. The Republican disqualified himself from the office of president with his behavior in connection with the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, according to the court’s historic decision.

This means that his name should not appear on the ballot papers for his party’s primaries for the 2024 presidential election. However, the momentous verdict is unlikely to be the last word in the case.

A Trump spokesman said he would immediately appeal the decision and called the decision “deeply undemocratic.” The 77-year-old Trump wants to move into the White House again for the Republicans. He leads by far in internal party polls – the primaries for the candidacy begin in a few weeks. So far everything points to a new edition of the election campaign between Trump and incumbent President Joe Biden.

It can now be assumed that the question of suitability for the office of president will ultimately have to be clarified by the country’s highest court. If the Supreme Court accepts the case, the further course of the election will be in the hands of the nine judges in Washington.

The background to the ruling is that various plaintiffs in various US states are trying to remove Trump’s name from ballot papers for the 2024 presidential election. His opponents argue with a constitutional amendment that excludes people from elections who have incited an “insurrection” against the constitution.

Clarification by US Supreme Court likely

The so-called prohibition of insurrection in the 14th Amendment states that no one may hold a higher office in the state who has previously taken part in an insurrection against the state as a public official. Although some examples of such higher offices are given in the passage, the office of president is not explicitly mentioned. The Colorado Supreme Court now considered, among other things, the question of whether the clause also applies to the office of president – and concluded that it did.

However, the court suspended its decision until shortly before the ballots were printed in early January or until possible clarification by the Supreme Court. If the US Supreme Court does not rule against Trump beforehand, his name will probably be on the ballot in Colorado.

Trump has not yet been criminally convicted for his role in the storming of the Capitol – although he is facing charges in Washington. His supporters stormed the parliament building in Washington on January 6, 2021. Congress met there to formally confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Trump had previously incited his supporters during a speech. Trump argues that his words at the time fell under freedom of speech. The Colorado court saw things completely differently. As a result of the riots, five people died.

Plaintiffs in other states failed

In states like Michigan and Minnesota, plaintiffs have already failed in their actions against Trump – but appeals are ongoing. In Colorado, too, the Republican was initially able to record a victory in a lower court. The judge had decided – unlike the state Supreme Court – that the ban on insurrection enshrined in the 14th Amendment explicitly did not refer to the office of president because of the vague legal text. From this she concluded that Trump should be allowed to remain on the ballot for the Republican primary in Colorado.

However, this judge also ruled that Trump had incited an insurrection against the Constitution. She wrote: “The Court concludes that Trump acted with the specific intent to incite political violence and direct it against the Capitol in order to disrupt the certification of the election results.”

Colorado Supreme Court: Aware of the implications

The Colorado Supreme Court agreed with the judge’s assessment. All seven judges there were nominated by Democrats. The verdict, decided by four to three votes, states that after examining the facts, it also comes to the conclusion that Trump intended to incite violence and riots with his speech on January 6th in order to prevent a peaceful transfer of power.

The court was also aware of the significance of the decision – and did not reach its conclusions lightly. It was also aware of its duty to apply the law without being influenced by the public reaction to the decision. The state’s chief election supervisor said she would comply with the court’s ruling.

All eyes on Washington

It is now unclear whether the US Supreme Court will accept the case. However, it is considered likely – since a question of constitutional importance needs to be clarified here. During his term in office, Trump shifted the majority on the court significantly to the right: to six of the nine seats. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court did not always decide in his favor – for example on the question of the release of his tax documents.

In the USA, the current case is now being compared to the historic negotiation over the outcome of the 2000 presidential election. At that time the question was whether the votes in the crucial state of Florida should be recounted. The Supreme Court declared the election over, making Republican George W. Bush president and Democrat Al Gore losing out.