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October 30, 2023 09:43 AM UTC

Trump Ballot Access Lawsuit Underway in Denver

  • by: Colorado Pols
The ex-President

Two weeks after trying (and failing) to get a lawsuit dismissed that seeks to keep Donald Trump off of the 2024 ballot in Colorado, lawyers for The Big Orange Guy will be in court all week arguing that Jan. 6, 2021 was a totally friendly insurrection.

As Nick Coltrain reports for The Denver Post:

Over the next five days, a Denver judge is set to hear arguments for why former President Donald Trump should not be allowed on the state’s 2024 ballot — along with his lawyers’ case for why she should reject the unusual challenge.

The ballot disqualification trial, set to begin Monday, will be the first time testimony and evidence are presented in a case that invokes the 14th Amendment to bar the Republican front-runner from a state’s ballot. It puts Colorado at the forefront of a novel legal fight that has united liberal critics and current and former Republicans who contend that Trump’s alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, siege of the nation’s Capitol disqualified him from being eligible to run for national office again.

A provision in the Civil War-era federal constitutional amendment bars people who engaged in insurrection or rebellion from holding office.

But there are key unresolved questions: Which actions meet that threshold? Who can enforce it? And what is the burden of proof necessary to bar someone from the ballot under that provision?

Those considerations will be heard by Denver District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace.

Trump faces similar 14th Amendment lawsuits in Minnesota and Michigan; the Minnesota Supreme Court will begin to hear arguments in their case on Thursday.

Trump’s legal team in Colorado includes former Secretary of State Scott Gessler. The Colorado Republican Party has also joined the case in support of keeping Trump on the ballot (should he win the GOP nomination in 2024).


20 thoughts on “Trump Ballot Access Lawsuit Underway in Denver

      1. Yes, but handling this case is like juggling butcher knives.

        Aside from adhering to the prime directive for any trial court judges – don't get reversed on appeal – this case comes with all sorts of other challenges:  a lunatic interested party with a social media platform and literally millions of unhinged followers most of whom are heavily armed and easily annoyed, a case that involves interpretation of what had been a dormant part of the constitution since the last active Confederate traitor died.

        1. I keep wondering why those millions of heavily armed erectionists didn't bring any guns to thier insurrection… I would think that would be like item #1 in the 'rection bag… 

          1. They were armed enough to injure or kill 150 cops. Some even had guns. They were planning to hang Mike Pence, drag Pelosi and AOC out by their hair, Not to mention massive pipe bombs at Dem HQ. Armed and dangerous…yes. 

            Are you with the “ it was just a jolly tourist walk- through” crowd, or the “ It was a massive Antifa set up” crowd? How do you excuse the actions of your fellow Magats?

            1. I don’t excuse nor am I “with” either crowd. It all just appears either ill-conceived and uncoordinated, lacking the proper planning to be considered a conspiracy to overthrow the government, or it was not an insurrection. I don’t think the “tree of freedom” crowd would come to an insurrection with a bat and some pepper spray. It kinda goes against the whole point of them being 2A advocates and makes little sense…. to me that is… but if this was truely an attempt to overthrow the government, it was feeble and I am not impressed.   

              1. So your argument is that it wasn’t a real insurrection because it was inefficient and its leader ( Trump) an incompetent fool? 

                It failed because key people were loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law. Are you glad or sorry about that?

                1. Not arguing it just seems clear that this effort to plot a coup does not even reach the incompetent fool threshold of planning. To think we are discussing whether or not the so called leader of said coup should be on the ballot and not hung adds a layer of suspicion that one can only wonder what the true nature of this event was meant to produce. 

                  1. "layer of suspicion….." Are you hinting that perhaps January 6 was a government set-up of some kind? Bear in mind that bats, pepper spray, flagpoles, knives, trash can lids, can do just as much damage as guns. January 6 wasn't just a version of WWE hard core matches.

  1. I suspect a court at some level may deem the issue a nonjusticiable political question and leave it up to Congress to decide whether to bar a candidate from office based on article 3. 

    1. "and leave it up to Congress to decide whether to bar a candidate from office"

      Wouldn't that be after the election because it would be hypothetical until the insurrectionist has actually won? Would it occur on January 6 when the new Congress counts the electoral votes? 

      How are past eight years in this country's existence being taught in political science and constitutional law classes?

      This is all shit no one ever expected us to have to deal with.

      1. If a court determines it's a nonjusticiable political question, then the courts will have no say in the issue, regardless of when the issue occurs, though it may be a higher court that makes that determination.  But the issue is  not hypothetical now, as the candidate is seeking ballot access for upcoming elections and the balloting process is in the works.  Trump and the GOP have standing to raise the issue (or in this case defend against efforts to disqualify trump from the CO ballot), and the courts will get this decided before the election.  It's likely that regardless of the ruling from the district court, this gets immediately appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court (bypassing the court of appeals if necessary–I don't know whether the claims being brought are ones where the appeal would go straight from district court to the supreme court).  The state supreme court will address it quickly and then it'll go to SCOTUS if necessary (if the state supreme court says trump can be on the ballot, SCOTUS may not weigh in).  I suppose there is a possibility that a court could say that the article 3 issue isn't truly ripe unless and until the candidate wins the election, but I seriously doubt that will happen because of the gravity of making a post-election determination invalidating a candidate. 

        1. Well, if Congress can weigh in now, I can easily imagine the House passing a bill declaring Trump to be a patriotic American citizen who is eminently qualified to run, be elected and serve, and in no way prohibited from holding office under the Fourteenth Amendment. (I would even predict it goes through on a vote of 221-212.)

          It would probably not be taken up in the Senate, or if it is taken up, it is substantially amended to declare that he is a criminal who engaged in insurrection and essentially tried to jump start the Civil War which ended in 1865. That amendment would not pass because at least 40 Senators would engage in prolonged debate. When cloture cannot be invoked, then the amendment dies, and the House bill is killed.

          So, we have a non-justiciable political question that the U.S. Supreme Court kicks over to the legislature – and I think it will be the U.S. Supreme Court that kicks it over to the Congress – but the legislative branch is incapable of acting.


          1. That's often the case with nonjusticiable political questions.  It's SCOTUS washing its hands.  Before Baker v. Carr, many on the Court took the position that reapportionment was nonjusticiable.  So even if it's determined to be nonjusticiable now, it may not always be that way.  Though it would be much better to not have insurrectionists seeking office.  But that's a pipe dream these days.  Sadly, our tripartite system only functions if people want it to function, and one party doesn't want it to, continuing the legacy of the hack actor turned president. 

    2. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment:

      No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. 

      It's not a popular viewpoint among the progressive crowd, but I'd place money on, "The President of the United States is not covered by the 14th Amendment." After all, they are clearly not, "Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President," and I think a convincing argument can be made that the office of President is not "under" the United States, which sounds to me more like civil servants and military service members.

      A plausible argument might be made that an insurrectionist can't run for Senate or the House or be appointed to civil or military service.

      But I could be wrong.


    1. But he's not going to acknowledge losing.

      Remember, he got his ass kicked in CA in 2016 but he declared that he really won if you subtracted the millions of votes cast by Mexicans who were non-citizens and voted illegally for Hillary Clinton.

  2. I think it's more damning that the so-called "defense" for having Trump on the ballot rests entirely on the claim that the President of the US is not referred to in the relevant clause of the 14th Amendment, a very narrow (although perhaps applicable) legalistic loophole through which to pass, instead of claiming, you know, maybe he didn't actually attempt to overthrow the government in the first place. I guess the latter point is now accepted on face value (as it should be), and we're just left to wonder what exactly to do about it now that the traitor wants to get re-elected to get revenge on all his perceived enemies (meaning us).

    I hope we can all appreciate how absurd, stupid, and pathetic this whole situation is. And I also hope that even if Trump gets squashed in the next election, this entire episode has revealed just how fragile and hole-ridden our Constitution really is and that democracy will die as soon as those who care about it let their guard down.

  3. My personal opinion: Colorado law does not deny ballot access based on the 14th Amendment. CRS specifically states that the qualifications are those under USC Article II; Colorado law postdates the 14th Amendment, so it not being included is meaningful. And specifically because Congress can grant exception, the appropriate time for exclusion is either when Congress says "no exception" or at electoral college time.

    That's not to say there aren't important questions here that should be answered earlier rather than later.

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