VICTORY: Colorado Court Rejects Attempt to Disqualify President Trump from Ballot as ACLJ Successfully Defends Colorado Republican Committee and the Right To Vote
In a monumental victory, the ACLJ is pleased to announce that the court in Colorado has rejected the Leftists’ attempt to bar President Trump from the Colorado primary ballot. The ACLJ is honored to represent the Colorado Republican Party in this case. We are immensely pleased that the Party’s autonomy, processes, and procedures – and its constitutional rights protected by the First Amendment – have prevailed. Justice and the rule of law have prevailed. The right to vote for the candidate of your choice has prevailed.
Here is the bottom line, in the Court’s words: “Pursuant to the above, the Court ORDERS the Secretary of State to place Donald J. Trump on the presidential primary ballot when it certifies the ballot on January 5, 2024.” It’s a 102 page opinion. You can read it here.
If the Petitioners in this case appeal, we’ll be there. We stand ready.
The ACLJ has now successfully represented the state Republican Parties of Oklahoma and Michigan, and prevailed in Minnesota where we filed a brief on behalf of our members.
The battle continues in West Virginia and Virginia, where we represent the Republican parties of those states.
In the Colorado District Court, we have been representing the Colorado Republican Committee as it sought to defend its own First Amendment rights, and its own ability to choose presidential candidates. Today, on November 17, 2023, the state trial court has issued its ruling. It has ordered that the Colorado Secretary of State place President Trump on the ballot.
This ruling vindicates and protects the Colorado Republican Party’s rights and autonomy to make its own decision, according to its own rules, regarding who it places on its primary ballots – in this case, President Trump. It protects the rights of Colorado voters, and also the weight of the voters all over the country. If the Petitioners had prevailed, everyone’s votes would have been watered down. President Trump’s Electoral College total votes possible would be reduced.
The Petitioners’ claims amounted to a radical usurpation of the rights of the voters and even the rights of political parties to make political decisions. We stood in the gap for our client, Colorado’s Republican Party, and its Chair, Dave Williams, who courageously engaged this legal battle. The Petitioners had not even named our client in the lawsuit, trying to leave it out of the equation. But the Party contacted us and we intervened. The Party’s voice had to be heard. The Constitution was at stake. And we won.
As we have been sharing with you, in state after state, the arguments for removing President Trump from the ballot have been rejected. Most recently, in Michigan the court there agreed with our amicus brief filed on behalf the Republican Party of Michigan and six other state Republican Parties (including Colorado) and recognized that political parties have the right to make their own decisions. (That fight went up on appeal in Michigan earlier this week). Across the country, courts have been soundly rejecting these novel theories that would twist the law to kick a political rival off the ballot. Thankfully, courts across the spectrum have been recognizing the dangers of these arguments. For example, the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected these arguments. That Court recognized the obvious; a presidential primary “is an internal party election to serve internal party purposes.”
The trend continues. The law prevails. Colorado Republican Party’s constitutional and statutory rights remain intact. In fact, they are even stronger now. The decision is left to the political parties and the voters at the ballot box, the place where such questions should be decided.
We have made clear from Day One in this case:
There are a number of reasons that make this attempt to remove Donald Trump from the ballot baseless. Here are just a handful:
- This provision of the 14th Amendment does not apply to former Presidents. The 14th Amendment has a Civil War provision that disqualifies anyone who commits insurrection or gives aid and support to our country’s enemies from holding political office. But, contrary to the way this provision has been described in the media, it only applies to people who held certain positions, such as Members of Congress, state legislators, “or as an officer of the United States.” As the Supreme Court of the United States has explained, the President is not an officer of the United States but the head of the Executive branch, with authority to appoint those officers.
- The cited provision of the 14th Amendment does not give a Secretary of State, or anyone else, the authority to unilaterally decide to remove someone from the ballot. If it did, it would allow for the arbitrary removal of any candidate without due process, without trial, and perhaps with a simple declaration by the Colorado Secretary of State or some other Secretary of State that the candidate is ineligible. Instead, the 14th Amendment operates “by the legislation of congress in its ordinary course,” as Chief Justice Chase explained when the provision was first ratified. Without a federal law giving them the right to seek a candidate’s removal, there is no basis to try to remove President Trump from the ballot in Colorado or anywhere else.
- Congress has, in fact, spoken on this issue. It provided the mechanism for people to be removed from election ballots under the 14th Amendment by enacting a statute, 18 U.S.C § 2383, which prohibits participation in rebellion or insurrection and provides that those found guilty of violating this statute “shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” This criminal law proceeds through the ordinary course of prosecution, trial by a court, decision by a jury, and appeal, with due process all the way. If a person were properly found guilty under this statute, they would be disqualified from office. Notably, no one connected to the January 6 issues has been charged with insurrection. In other words, the method Congress has provided for disqualifying someone from office has not even been pursued here.
In short, this disqualification provision doesn’t apply to a President. Even if it did, people do not get to arbitrarily enforce it and ignore the requirements of due process; it is not self-executing and, instead, must be enforced through the mechanisms Congress has established. And the mechanism that Congress has established is a criminal insurrection statute that no prosecutor, not even Jack Smith, has charged President Trump with violating. Even people critical of Donald Trump have gone on the record, pointing out how dangerous this lawsuit is. Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia Secretary of State, explained, “For a secretary of state to remove a candidate would only reinforce the grievances of those who see the system as rigged and corrupt. . . . Denying voters the opportunity to choose is fundamentally un-American.”
Again, if the Petitioners appeal this ruling, we will meet them there.
We are equipped to address these issues on behalf of the Republican Party of Colorado and its First Amendment rights. We will continue to stand with the Republican Parties of Virginia and West Virginia. As the Michigan case goes up on appeal, we’ll be there, too.
As this fight to defend your right to vote for the candidate of your choice continues, we need your support. As we can see, the Left’s attack on the Constitution is relentless. We can’t stand down. Stand with us.