The Colorado Republican Party has officially asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on the Colorado Republican primary ballot next year, a request that sets the table for the highest court to settle a debate unfolding in several states, including Maine.
The Colorado Republican Party filed a writ of certiorari Thursday asking the SCOTUS to overturn the state Supreme Court’s decision to block former President Trump from appearing on the ballot in the Colorado presidential primary.
As a result of this appeal, the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision has been stayed — meaning that the former president’s name will appear on the state’s primary ballot next year unless the U.S. Supreme Court directly orders them to remove it at a later date.
Earlier this month, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump is ineligible to appear on the state’s primary ballot in 2024, marking the first time in United States history that Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment — added to the Constitution during the Civil War era — has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate.
Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment states:
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. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Their decision was written in such a way, however, that if a request for review was filed with the SCOTUS, they would stay their decision, thereby allowing the former president’s name to appear on the primary ballot.
[RELATED: Colorado SCOTUS Boots Trump Off 2024 Ballot]
In their Supreme Court filing, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) — the law firm representing the Colorado GOP — asked SCOTUS to provide answers to three questions:
- “Whether the President falls within the list of officials subject to the disqualification provision of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment;”
- “Whether Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment is self-executing to the extent of allowing states to remove candidates from the ballot in the absence of any Congressional action authorizing such process;”
- “Whether the denial to a political party of its ability to choose the candidate of its choice in a presidential primary and general election violates that party’s First Amendment Right of Association.”
“For the first time in American history, a former President has been disqualified from the ballot, a political party has been denied the opportunity to put forward the presidential candidate of its choice, and the voters have been denied the ability to choose their Chief Executive through the electoral process,” the filing reads.
“This unprecedented decision urgently merits this Court’s review to prevent ‘the potential chaos wrought by an imprudent, unconstitutional, and standardless system in which each state gets to adjudicate Section Three disqualification cases on an ad hoc basis,'” the ACLJ continues.
The ACLJ went on to argue that Colorado decision, if not overturned, will open the door for future spurious challenges to the eligibility of individuals to run for political office.
“Unless the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision is overturned, any voter will have the power to sue to disqualify any political candidate, in Colorado or in any other jurisdiction that follows its lead,” the ACLJ writes. “This will not only distort the 2024 presidential election but will also mire courts henceforth in political controversies over nebulous accusations of insurrection.”
Counsel for the Colorado GOP also noted that the state Supreme Court’s decision will have immediate national implications for the 2024 presidential election if not overturned.
“With the number of challenges to President Trump’s candidacy now pending in other states, ranging from lawsuits to administrative proceedings, there is a real risk the Colorado Supreme Court majority’s flawed and unprecedented analysis will be borrowed, and the resulting grave legal error repeated,” the ACLJ wrote in their filing.
One of the “administrative proceedings” referenced here by the ACLJ is that which is currently underway in Maine.
Three challenges to Trump’s eligibility to appear on Maine’s presidential primary ballot were filed with the Secretary of State’s Office earlier this month.
Secretary of State Shenna Bellows held an eight hour hearing earlier this month, during which arguments were presented both by the challengers and the former president’s legal counsel, many of which mirrored those which have been made concerning Trump’s eligibility to appear on the ballot in state’s across the country.
The most robust of the challenges made to the former president’s eligibility to appear on Maine’s ballot was based upon the same legal framework as the Colorado case — that is to say, that the former president is ineligible to appear on the ballot as a result of an alleged disqualification under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Consequently, the ultimate fate of the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling will likely have critical implications for Secretary Bellows’ decision.
After the Colorado justices released their opinion blocking Trump from the ballot, Bellows delayed the issuance of her decision on the challenges in Maine and gave the parties an opportunity to submit additional briefings.
Although she was originally expected to determine on Trump’s eligibility by Friday, December 22, she announced that she would be delaying her decision.
While it was initially expected that the Secretary would issue her determination earlier this week, Bellows has not yet done so.
Particularly in light of the Colorado GOP’s appeal to the Supreme Court, it is not clear when Bellows will eventually choose issue her ruling on Trump’s ability to appear on Maine’s presidential primary ballot.
It is also unknown how Bellows intends to incorporate the recent developments in the Colorado case into her own decision-making process. The same can be said of the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision to keep Trump on the ballot.
“This is so much more than one primary in one state – this is the greatest election interference case in U.S. history and represents a grave attack on millions of Americans’ fundamental right to vote,” the ACLJ said in a statement concerning their recently-filed writ of certioriari.
“The Constitution, our system of democratic elections in our constitutional republic, the right of a party to designate its candidates of choice for its members, due process – and, ultimately, the voters’ right to choose who they vote for are all under assault,” the ACLJ said.
“This is the most important case we have ever taken on. Because if we lose our right to vote, we lose our constitutional republic,” the ACLJ concluded.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold posted a statement on X speaking to the Colorado Republican Party’s request for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state Court’s decision.
“Donald Trump engaged in insurrection and was disqualified under the Constitution from the Colorado Ballot,” Secretary Griswold wrote. “The Colorado Supreme Court got it right. This decision is now being appealed. I urge the U.S. Supreme Court to act quickly given the upcoming presidential primary election.”
Trump was never been charged, let alone indicted, for crimes related to insurrection by any U.S. court or the U.S. Senate.
Donald Trump engaged in insurrection and was disqualified under the Constitution from the Colorado Ballot. The Colorado Supreme Court got it right. This decision is now being appealed. I urge the U.S. Supreme Court to act quickly given the upcoming presidential primary election.— Jena Griswold (@JenaGriswold) December 28, 2023
It is important to note that the Colorado GOP’s filing of a writ of certiorari, does not guarantee that the United States Supreme Court will decide hear the case.
Because of how the Colorado justices wrote their majority opinion, however, the party’s request for review has fulfilled the conditions necessary for Trump’s name to appear on the state’s primary ballot next year barring a direct order from the Supreme Court for its removal.
The Maine Secretary of State’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Maine Wire.