Colorado’s ruling kicking Trump off ballot violates Constitution, legal experts say

The decision is remarkably "anti-democratic," multiple experts noted.

President Donald Trump speaking with supporters at an "An Address to Young Americans" event hosted by Students for Trump and Turning Point Action at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona in June 2020. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

(Daily Caller News Foundation) — The Colorado Supreme Court’s Tuesday decision to disqualify former President Donald Trump from the state’s Republican primary ballot is an attack on the Constitution, multiple legal experts said.

In a 4-3 decision, the court found Trump was an ineligible candidate under Section Three of the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies officials who take an oath to the Constitution and then “engage in insurrection” from holding office. The decision is remarkably “anti-democratic,” multiple experts noted.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said in a Wednesday column for The Messenger that the opinion “lacks any limiting principles.”

“It places the nation on a slippery slope where red and blue states could now engage in tit-for-tat disqualifications,” he wrote. “According to the Colorado Supreme Court, those decisions do not need to be based on the specific comments made by figures like Trump. Instead, it ruled, courts can now include any statements made before or after a speech to establish a ‘true threat.’”

He also called it “the most anti-democratic opinion in decades.”

“What is particularly galling is that these four justices stripped away the right of millions of voters to choose their preferred candidate in the name of democracy,” he wrote. “It is like burning down a house in the name of fire safety.”

Harvard University law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz called the decision a “purely partisan ploy” that “clearly violates the explicit terms of the Constitution itself” on Fox News Wednesday

“Look, the 14th Amendment was intended to prevent people who engage in the Civil War from running, that’s what the purpose was,” Dershowitz said. “If you look at the whole amendment, it talks about the Civil War, it talks about slavery. It’s clearly in context, a one-off. It wasn’t designed to replace the impeachment provisions of the Constitution, as this court absurdly ruled.”

University of California, Los Angeles professor and election law expert Rick Hasen wrote in a Tuesday post on the Election Law Blog that the decision is “a serious and careful opinion that reaches a reasonable conclusion,” but nevertheless noted the “legal odds” are with Trump on appeal to the Supreme Court.

“In the end the legal issues are close but the political ramifications of disqualification would be enormous,” he wrote. “Once again the Supreme Court is being thrust into the center of a U.S. presidential election. But unlike in 2000 the general political instability in the United States makes the situation now much more precarious.”

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said that “the brazenly partisan opinion is a full frontal attack on our constitutional republic that, if allowed to stand, could wreck our elections.”

Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey called the decision a “violation of the rule of law and the character of our nation.”

“This undermines Missourians’ votes for President,” he said. “We stand ready to defend the rule of law.”

Former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Jeff Clark agreed with one of the dissenting judges, writing that “keeping Trump out of the race violates the President’s due process rights.”

“Also, as I have written, President Trump was acquitted in his second impeachment and I don’t think Section 3 of the 14th Amendment even applies to Trump as the lower Colorado Court rightly held,” he wrote.

The Colorado Supreme Court put its decision on hold until Jan. 4, pending Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court.


Katelynn Richardson