Colorado Supreme Court Denies Trump Ballot Access in Unprecedented Ruling

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Max Power

Max Power is the Editor-in-Chief of Undoing Time.  You can reach him at or by calling 866-664-3052


Colorado Supreme Court Judges

On Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a groundbreaking ruling, disqualifying former President Donald Trump from seeking the presidency in the state’s Republican primary. The court invoked the Constitution’s insurrection clause, specifically Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, citing Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol as grounds for ineligibility.

The case is Anderson v. Grisword, Docket # 23SA300 

Read the entire opinion, with dissenting opinion, HERE:

Anderson v. Grisworld, Docket # 2023-CO-63 – Opinion 12-19-2023

Notable Quotes:

Majority Opinion:

We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. 

We are also cognizant that we travel in uncharted territory, and that this case presents several issues of first impression.

Justice Samour, Dissenting

Our government cannot deprive someone of the right to hold public office without due process of law. Even if we are convinced that a candidate committed horrible acts in the past—dare I say, engaged in insurrection—there must be procedural due process before we can declare that individual disqualified from holding public office. Procedural due process is one of the aspects of America’s democracy that sets this country apart.

The decision to bar former President Donald J. Trump — by all accounts the current leading Republican presidential candidate (and reportedly the current leading overall presidential candidate) — from Colorado’s presidential primary ballot flies in the face of the due process doctrine.

…our court sanctions these makeshift proceedings employed by the district court below—which lacked basic discovery, the ability to subpoena documents and compel witnesses, workable timeframes to adequately investigate and develop defenses, and the opportunity for a fair trial—to adjudicate a federal constitutional claim (a complicated one at that) masquerading as a run-of-the-mill state Election Code claim.

But Section Three [of the Fourteenth Amendment] doesn’t spell out the procedures that must be followed to determine whether someone has engaged in insurrection after taking the prerequisite oath. That is, it sheds no light on whether a jury must be empaneled or a bench trial will suffice, the proper burdens of proof and standards of review, the application of discovery and evidentiary rules, or even whether civil or criminal proceedings are contemplated. This dearth of procedural guidance is not surprising: Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment specifically gives Congress absolute power to enact legislation to enforce Section Three. My colleagues in the majority concede that there is currently no legislation enacted by Congress to enforce Section Three. This is of no moment to them, however, because  they conclude that Section Three is self-executing, and that the states are free to apply their own procedures (including compressed ones in an election code) to enforce it. That is hard for me to swallow.

Significantly, there is a federal statute that specifically criminalizes insurrection and requires that anyone convicted of engaging in such conduct be fined or imprisoned and be disqualified from holding public office. See 18 U.S.C. § 2383.

If any federal legislation arguably enables the enforcement of Section Three, it’s section 2383. True, President Trump has not been charged under that statute, so it is not before us. But the point is that this is the only federal legislation in existence at this time to potentially enforce Section Three. Had President Trump been charged under section 2383, he would have received the full panoply of constitutional rights that all defendants are afforded in criminal cases. More to the point for our purposes, had he been so charged, I wouldn’t be writing separately to call attention to the substandard due process of law he received in these abbreviated Election Code proceedings.

This unprecedented decision marks the first instance in which a court has barred a presidential candidate from office under Section 3. The court directed the secretary of state to omit Trump’s name from the primary ballot, emphasizing that listing him would be contrary to the Election Code. President Biden, when asked about the ruling, deferred to the court’s interpretation of Section 3 and asserted that there is no doubt about Trump’s support for the insurrection.

This ruling is confined to Colorado and does not have broader applicability. The court, comprised of justices appointed by Democratic governors, delayed its decision until January 4, just ahead of the deadline for Secretary of State Jena Griswold to certify candidates for the March 5 primary. The majority opinion stated that allowing Trump on the ballot would constitute a wrongful act under Section 3.

In response to the decision, Trump’s campaign spokesperson announced plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, setting the stage for a high-stakes legal battle over his eligibility to run. The Colorado Supreme Court indicated that if the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the case before January 4, the stay on their decision will persist, obliging the secretary to include Trump on the primary ballot until the nation’s highest court reaches a verdict.

In a statement, the Trump campaign criticized the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision, labeling it as deeply undemocratic. The campaign expressed confidence in a favorable outcome from the U.S. Supreme Court, anticipating an end to what they deemed “unAmerican lawsuits.” The Colorado Supreme Court’s 4-3 split decision highlighted the disagreement over the interpretation of Section 3, specifically whether it extends to the presidency and individuals who have taken the presidential oath.


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