A Colorado judge on Friday rejected a 14th Amendment challenge to Donald Trump appearing on the state's presidential ballot in 2024.
The ruling follows a two-and-a-half-week trial in the state over Trump’s eligibility under Section 3 of the amendment, also known as the insurrection clause.
Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace found the petitioners — four Republican voters and two unaffiliated voters in the state — “established that Trump engaged in an insurrection on January 6, 2021 through incitement, and that the First Amendment does not protect Trump’s speech.”
However, Wallace wrote in her order, the court sides with the intervenors in the case — Trump and the Colorado Republican State Central Committee — in their interpretation of the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause, which 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.
Wallace agreed with the intervenors in finding that the drafters of the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause “did not intend to include the President as ‘an officer of the United States.’”
What's more, the judge wrote, it appears that for “whatever reason” the drafters also “did not intend to include a person who had only taken the Presidential Oath.”
“As a result, the Court holds that Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to Trump,” the judge wrote.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who is named in the lawsuit along with Trump, has said Trump incited the insurrection though she chose not to keep him off the ballot and instead called on the courts to weigh in on the matter.
The Colorado case is one of several legal challenges pending across the country in which voters have cited the 14th Amendment to try to keep the former president off the presidential ballot in 2024.
Courts in Minnesota and Michigan recently punted on the 14th Amendment question. The Minnesota Supreme Court said it’s up to state Republicans to determine whether to put Trump on the primary ballot and that the question of general election eligibility is premature. A Michigan judge issued a similar ruling but went further in deeming the constitutional question a “political” one that’s for Congress, not courts, to decide. It doesn’t appear that the Minnesota ruling is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Michigan challengers have vowed to appeal the lower court ruling at least through the state judicial system.
The U.S. Supreme Court will likely have the final word on the subject, though it’s not yet clear in which case — or cases.
Read the Colorado judge's full order below: