On December 19, the Colorado Supreme Court declared that they will be removing former President Donald Trump from the Republican primary ballot. As Trump has been under scrutiny for inciting the insurrection of the United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021, the Colorado Supreme Court argues that they are allowed to remove Trump from the ballot due to a clause in the 14th amendment of the United States Constitution. Section 3 of the 14th amendment states that no person can, “…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….” Since the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump engaged in an insurrection, he can be barred from the presidency as outlined by this clause.

“We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.” the majority party of the Colorado Supreme Court stated. The court agreed that the removal of the former president from the ballot will not be final until January 4, 2024. There are many concerns about the legitimacy of this decision, including whether the outdated nature of the amendment included the office of President.

This controversial decision is expected to go to the Supreme Court very soon, and will need to be ruled on quickly, as the deadline for ballot certification in Colorado is January 5th. The Republican Party of Colorado appealed the case, arguing that removing the former President from the primary ballot is an infringement on American democracy and gives Trump an unfair disadvantage. Trump’s attorneys argued that the decision sets a dangerous precedent going forward, and is harmful to the democratic election process. 

“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. This will not only distort the 2024 presidential election but will also mire courts henceforth in political controversies over nebulous accusations of insurrection,” said Trump’s attorneys.

The Republican Party of Colorado has appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, and Trump is expected to do the same soon. The Colorado Secretary of State, Jena Griswold, announced that she will follow the decision of the Supreme Court and will be including Trump on the primary ballot unless the Supreme Court rules in favor of removal. If the Supreme Court decides to not take the case, however, Trump will be removed from the ballot. This will be the first time that the United States Supreme Court will be hearing a case related to Section 3 of the 14th amendment.

One other state has followed in the footsteps of Colorado so far, and more may follow. On December 28, 2023, Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows announced that she would be removing Trump from the primary ballots in Maine, a decision that Trump’s campaign has appealed to the Maine Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court of the United States rules in favor of the Colorado Supreme Court, many other states will likely be inspired to consider removing Trump from their ballots. This is likely going to spark a lot of debate over the validity of the 14th amendment as well as how much power states are able to have over national elections. 

Sophomore Nicholas Carpenter is the News Editor. His email is ncarpent@fandm.edu.