Legal proceedings began on Tuesday in a Colorado case aiming to block former President Donald Trump from being listed on the 2024 presidential election ballot.
The hearing kicked off with Judge Sarah Wallace dismissing a request from Trump’s legal team that she step aside due to her past donation to a liberal group working to keep Trump off the ballot. She also made donations to several Democratic candidates running for office.
The district court judge in Colorado, nominated by Democratic Governor Jared Polis in 2022, had earlier rejected a motion from Trump and the Colorado GOP to dismiss the case.
Trump is encountering legal challenges to be listed on the ballot in several states due to his alleged involvement in the events of January 6, 2021. The plaintiffs refer to the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits individuals who took part in an insurrection from holding federal office.
Trump’s legal team contends that the amendment, ratified in the wake of the Civil War, was meant to be applicable to those waging war against the United States.
Trump never “engaged in insurrection,” and his questioning of the 2020 election results is political speech protected by the First Amendment, they argue.
“Trump’s comments did not come close to ‘incitement,’ let alone ‘engagement’ in an insurrection,” they wrote in a filing.
His legal team goes on to question whether the amendment even pertains to the president’s office. They highlight that the text of the amendment mentions “Senator or Representative in Congress” and “elector of President and Vice President,” but does not explicitly refer to the “President.”
Recently, a federal court in New Hampshire dismissed a similar case, declaring that the claim based on the Fourteenth Amendment is a “nonjusticiable political question.”
Trump has not been found guilty of insurrection and was acquitted by the U.S. Senate of charges related to participating in insurrection.
The Colorado case could likely land before the Supreme Court, which has never before ruled on the Civil War-era amendment.
The case is sponsored and led by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW has previously received funding from Democratic Party supporters such as David Brock and Norm Eisen, as well as financial support from George Soros’s political group, including over $1 million in 2017 alone.
The organization doesn’t reveal or make public information about its donors.
The case is Anderson v. Griswold, No. 2023CV32577, in district court for the city and county of Denver.
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