Posts tagged with "Section 3"

Colorado judge rules Trump can be on ballot—but says he ‘engaged’ in insurrection

November 21, 2023

On Friday, November 17, a judge ruled that former President Donald Trump had engaged in insurrection by inciting a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021—but decided that he is not barred from appearing on the primary ballot in Colorado, reports The Washington Post.

The ruling in Colorado’s state court— the first to find that the presidential candidate had participated in an insurrection—served as a rebuke to the Republican front-runner, even as it provided him with a legal victory. Trump has won a string of cases brought by opponents who are trying to keep him off the ballot under a provision of the Constitution (the 14th Amendment) that bars officials who engage in insurrection from holding office.

Denver District Judge Sarah B. Wallace wrote that Trump “acted with the specific intent to disrupt the Electoral College certification of President Biden’s electoral victory through unlawful means; specifically, by using unlawful force and violence.” And, she concluded, “that Trump incited an insurrection on January 6, 2021 and therefore ‘engaged’ in insurrection.”

An appeal is expected and could ultimately be resolved by the Colorado Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wallace’s ruling came a week and a half after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that former President Donald Trump could not be removed from the primary ballot in that state and three days after a Michigan judge reached the same conclusion.

Despite the decision’s blunt wording and findings, Trump campaign spokesman Steve Cheung championed the ruling, calling it “another nail in the coffin of the un-American ballot challenges.”

Trump opponents have been bringing their lawsuits state by state in hopes of ultimately securing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that keeps Trump off the ballot in all states. The cases are moving quickly because caucuses and primaries will be held starting in January.

Adopted in 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, the 14th Amendment granted citizenship to those born or naturalized in the United States and guaranteed civil rights to all Americans, including those who had been enslaved. The amendment’s lesser-known Section 3 was aimed at limiting the power of former Confederates by barring from office those who had sworn an oath to the Constitution and later engaged in insurrection.

Although Wallace found that Trump engaged in insurrection, she determined Section 3 does not apply to him. Section 3 refers to some offices by name as well as those who are an “officer of the United States,” but does not specifically mention the presidency.

Wallace determined those who wrote Section 3 “did not intend to include the President as ‘an officer of the United States.’”

The judge also determined that the amendment’s provision technically applied to those who swear an oath to “support” the Constitution. The oath Trump took when he was sworn in after he was elected in 2016 was to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution.

Wallace wrote she did not want to disqualify someone from office “without a clear, unmistakable indication” that that was what those who wrote the 14th Amendment intended.

Even as she ruled in Trump’s favor, Wallace was unsparing in her description of his behavior before, during and after the attack on the Capitol. She found Trump has a “history of courting extremists and endorsing political violence” and knew his supporters were willing to engage in violence.

“The evidence shows that Trump not only knew about the potential for violence, but that he actively promoted it and, on January 6, 2021, incited it,” she wrote.

In Colorado and other states, Trump’s attorneys have argued the attack was not an insurrection, Trump did not participate in it and Trump told his supporters to act peacefully. In addition, they have contended Section 3 does not apply to the presidency and said Congress, not courts, should determine who is eligible to hold office.

The lawsuit was brought by six Republican and independent voters with the help of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington . Noah Bookbinder, the group’s president, said the voters would appeal the case to the Colorado Supreme Court soon.

“We are proud to have brought this historic case and know we are right on the facts and right on the law,” he said in a statement. “Today was not the end of this effort, but another step along the way.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Watchdog group sues to block Trump from Colorado ballot, citing 14th Amendment

September 8, 2023

A Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, September 6, to block former President Donald Trump from the 2024 Republican primary ballot in Colorado, citing the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists holding public office, reports CNN.

In recent weeks, a growing number of liberal and conservative legal scholars have embraced the longshot legal strategy. The lawsuit, from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), is the first high-profile legal case attempting to use the 14th Amendment to derail Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump has denied wrongdoing regarding the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and said in a recent social media post that there is “no legal basis” to use the 14th Amendment to remove him from the ballot.

A post-Civil War provision of the 14th Amendment says any American official who takes an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution is disqualified from holding any future office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or if they have “given aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.

However, the Constitution does not spell out how to enforce this ban and it has only been applied twice since the late 1800s, when it was used extensively against former Confederates.

The lawsuit was filed by CREW on behalf of six Colorado voters, whom the group says are Independents or Republicans, including former U.S. Representative Claudine Schneider and former Colorado Senate Majority Leader Norma Anderson, both Republicans.

Noah Bookbinder, president of CREW, told CNN’s Abby Phillip on “NewsNight” on Wednesday that the group chose Colorado because of its “courageous plaintiffs,” early position in the primaries, and laws.

“For all of those reasons we thought it was a good first stop. It won’t be the last stop and we and others will bring other cases as well,” he said.

CREW was behind the most successful application of the so-called “disqualification clause.” A convicted January 6 rioter who was also an elected New Mexico county commissioner was removed from office last year on 14th Amendment grounds through a different but related legal mechanism that was initiated by CREW.

The nonprofit group on Wednesday sued Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold in state court and asked a judge to issue an order “declaring Trump disqualified under the Fourteenth Amendment” and barring Griswold “from taking any action that would allow him to access the ballot.”

“Because Trump swore an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution upon assuming the Office of the President on January 20, 2017—and then engaged in insurrection against the Constitution on and around January 6, 2021—he is disqualified under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment from ‘hold[ing] any office … under the United States,’ including the Office of the President,” the lawsuit says.

Griswold, a Democrat, said in a statement that she believes Colorado state law is “unclear” on how to review constitutional requirements for “whether a candidate is eligible for office” and that the newly filed lawsuit will provide critical legal guidance.

“I look forward to the Colorado Court’s substantive resolution of the issues and am hopeful that this case will provide guidance to election officials on Trump’s eligibility as a candidate for office,” Griswold said.

The GOP primary in Colorado is on March 5, which is Super Tuesday. Trump’s federal criminal trial on charges stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election is scheduled to begin March 4. He has pleaded not guilty.

Research contact: @CNN