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Colorado judge rules Trump can remain on 2024 primary ballot

Donald Trump may still appear on the 2024 primary presidential ballot in Colorado, a state has judge ruled – shutting down efforts to remove the former president by invoking the 14th Amendment.

The attempt to remove Mr Trump from the ballot was based on the claim that he is constitutionally barred from office because of the January 6 insurrection.

The decision, issued on Friday afternoon by Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace, comes after judges in Minnesota and Michigan also refused to remove Mr Trump from those states’ Republican primary ballots.

It comes following a weeklong hearing in Denver. A lawsuit filed by a group of Republican voters and unaffiliated Colorado voters by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), argued that Mr Trump had “failed” that test and rendered him “constitutionally ineligible to appear on any Colorado ballot as a candidate for federal or state office”.

The 14 Amendment, adopted in the aftermath of the US Civil War, prohibits anyone who has sworn an oath to uphold the constitution — including elected officials — and who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof”, from holding office in the future.

Colorado is the third state to rule that the former president can appear on their ballots in 2024 (AP)
Colorado is the third state to rule that the former president can appear on their ballots in 2024 (AP)

“The court’s decision affirms what our clients alleged in this lawsuit: that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection based on his role in January 6th,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder in a statement issued after the verdict.

“We are proud to have brought this historic case and know we are right on the facts and right on the law. When we filed this case, we knew it likely would not end at the district court level.

“We will be filing an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court shortly. Today was not the end of this effort, but another step along the way.”

Mr Trump has recently won two similar legal battles to remain on the primary ballots in both Minnesota and Michigan.

Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit to remove the former president from that state’s primary ballot by saying that political parties can allow whomever they want to qualify for primaries. However, the court left the door open for a general election challenge if Mr Trump becomes the GOP nominee.

On Tuesday, a Michigan judge also dismissed another lawsuit seeking remove Mr Trump from the state’s primary ballot.

The judge said that whether or not the provision applies to the former president was a “political question” to be settled by Congress, not judges.

Mr Trumps attorney Scott Gessler told Colorado District Judge Wallace during closing arguments in Colorado that the rulings in Minnesota and Michigan demonstrate “an emerging consensus here across the judiciary across the United States.”

Throughout the weeklong hearing that concluded earlier this month, he said the plaintiffs had failed to show that the 14th Amendment’s insurrection provision applies to Mr Trump.

The case was based on Trump’s part in inciting the January 6 insurrection (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
The case was based on Trump’s part in inciting the January 6 insurrection (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The clause was initially included to keep Confederates from entering a government that they fought a war against, and was largely used for only a brief period following its ratification and the enactment of the Amnesty Act in 1872, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.

The last federal use of the clause was in 1919, when Congress blocked a socialist representative after he was convicted of espionage, a charge that was later tossed out.

Prior to the judge’s ruling in Colorado on Friday, attorneys for Mr Trump had repeatedly tried to get the case dismissed.

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the former president labelled it another “trick” from his political opponents joining what he tells his supporters is a Democratic conspiracy against him to “steal” the upcoming election.

Beyond the primary ballot disqualification attempts, Trump faces state and federal criminal charges in connection with his attempts to overturn the 2020 election. He has pleaded not guilty.

Additional reporting by Alex Woodward.