Denver Court Rules Trump Eligible for Colorado GOP Primary Amid Legal Challenges

Colorado court navigates constitutional complexities in landmark ruling.

by Nouman Rasool
Denver Court Rules Trump Eligible for Colorado GOP Primary Amid Legal Challenges
© Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Decision issued by the Denver District Court, former President Donald Trump has been granted the right to appear on Colorado's Republican primary ballot. The ruling, delivered by Judge Sarah B.Wallace on Friday evening, marks a significant moment in the ongoing legal and political debates surrounding the eligibility of candidates for high office.

This judgment came in response to a lawsuit filed in September by six Republican and unaffiliated voters in Colorado. Represented by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the plaintiffs sought to invoke Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which bars individuals from running for office if they have participated in "insurrection or rebellion" against the United States.

They argued that Trump's involvement in the events of January 6 fell under this "insurrectionist ban."

Judge Wallace's Analysis

In her detailed 102-page opinion, Judge Wallace acknowledged the complexity and ambiguity surrounding the constitutional clause.

She highlighted the "competing interpretations" and the "lack of definitive guidance in the text or historical sources." Ultimately, Wallace concluded that the ambiguity of the text did not sufficiently warrant Trump's disqualification.

She emphasized the need for a clear, unmistakable intent in the application of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, which she found lacking in this case. The Trump team welcomed the decision, with spokesperson Steven Cheung describing it as a victory against what they perceive as attempts to interfere with the 2024 presidential election.

Cheung emphasized the constitutional right of American voters to choose their preferred candidate, lauding the court's decision to preserve this right in Colorado. On the other hand, CREW expressed their intent to challenge the decision, planning an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.

CREW President Noah Bookbinder emphasized that this legal battle was far from over, stating, "Today was not the end of this effort, but another step along the way." The organization underscored the significance of the case, noting that it was the first instance where a presidential candidate was found to have engaged in insurrection after a thorough evidentiary hearing.

With the Colorado GOP primary ballot certification deadline looming on January 5, and the state voting on Super Tuesday, March 5, the appeal process is expected to progress swiftly. This ruling in Colorado aligns with similar recent outcomes in Michigan and Minnesota, where judges also dismissed efforts to remove Trump from the ballot under the same constitutional provision.

In these states, lawsuits filed by citizens and the group Free Speech For People (FSFP) were overruled, with FSFP recently filing an appeal in Michigan. The Colorado decision is particularly noteworthy as it was the only case among the three states to involve an evidentiary hearing, including five days of witness testimony and evidence review, concluding with closing arguments just days before the ruling.

This comprehensive approach underscores the thoroughness and gravity with which these legal challenges are being addressed, reflecting the high stakes of these decisions in the context of American electoral politics.