KRDO Asks R&H About Trump’s Ballot Eligibility

December 20, 2023 | 1 minute read
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In a landmark decision that shook the 2024 presidential race, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4-3 to bar Donald Trump from Colorado’s March primary ballot. This unprecedented move stems from Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which disqualifies anyone who "engaged in an insurrection or rebellion" from holding federal office.

The court's majority argued that Trump's January 6th speech "incited the crowd" and violated the First Amendment protections for free speech. Dissenting justices countered that Trump should not be barred without criminal charges or due process.

KRDO asked Robinson & Henry about the legal scenarios regarding Trump's ballot eligibility with expected appeal to U.S. Supreme Court. Litigation Senior Associate Eric Kibel sheds light on this legal grey area. Eric emphasized the Constitution doesn't require a conviction for insurrection, only actual participation in the act. This raises the stakes for the U.S. Supreme Court, which is likely to be the final arbiter in this case.

“It's fairly likely that the court will weigh in,” Kibel said. “There has been a split between various states. Different courts and different states have addressed this issue. So far, the Colorado Supreme Court is the only one that has allowed this type of claim to go forward. Other states have not. This is clearly something that the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately need to resolve.”

The key date is January 5, 2024 when primary ballots must be certified for the election. The path forward depends on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision and timeline. 

Kibel said it’s possible the country’s highest court will take the case but will not issue a ruling until the summer, after the Colorado primaries are over. Kibel added a summer ruling would likely affect the general election ballot.

If the U.S. Supreme Court agrees with the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling, Kibel said it could set a national precedent impacting not just the 16 states currently contesting Trump’s candidacy but potentially all future elections.

“If the Supreme Court upholds the Colorado Supreme Court ruling on that issue, it would seem to be a binding legal precedent that would preclude President Trump from being elected and serving in office again,” Kibel said.

The Colorado Republican Party is exploring alternatives, seeking a waiver to switch to a caucus system instead of a primary election. If approved, this move could add another layer of uncertainty to Trump's political future.

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