The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that Donald Trump committed insurrection, disqualified himself from serving as President again, and thus cannot appear on Colorado’s Presidential primary ballot. The court arrives at this conclusion with a plain reading of the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3:
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 [United States Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3, ratified 1868.07.09].
…and a plain reading of the facts that Donald Trump violated his oath to uphold the Constitution and engaged in insurrection against the order that Constitution establishes:
¶11 On January 6, 2021, pursuant to the Twelfth Amendment, U.S. Const. amend. XII, and the Electoral Count Act, 3 U.S.C. § 15, Congress convened a joint session to certify the Electoral College votes. President Trump held a rally that morning at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. at which he, along with several others, spoke to the attendees. In his speech, which began around noon, President Trump persisted in rejecting the election results, telling his supporters that “[w]e won in a landslide” and “we will never concede.” He urged his supporters to “confront this egregious assault on our democracy”; “walk down to the Capitol . . . [and] show strength”; and that if they did not “fight like hell, [they would] not . . . have a country anymore.” Before his speech ended, portions of the crowd began moving toward the Capitol.
…¶182 In light of these and other proffered definitions, the district court concluded that “an insurrection as used in Section Three is (1) a public use of force or threat of force (2) by a group of people (3) to hinder or prevent execution of the Constitution of the United States.”
…¶184 Although we acknowledge that these definitions vary and some are arguably broader than others, for purposes of deciding this case, we need not adopt a single, all-encompassing definition of the word “insurrection.” Rather, it suffices for us to conclude that any definition of “insurrection” for purposes of Section Three would encompass a concerted and public use of force or threat of force by a group of people to hinder or prevent the U.S. government from taking the actions necessary to accomplish a peaceful transfer of power in this country.
…¶185 The question thus becomes whether the evidence before the district court sufficiently established that the events of January 6 constituted a concerted and public use of force or threat of force by a group of people to hinder or prevent the U.S. government from taking the actions necessary to accomplish the peaceful transfer of power in this country. We have little difficulty concludingthat substantial evidence in the record supported each of these elements and that, as the district court found, the events of January 6 constituted an insurrection.
¶186 It is undisputed that a large group of people forcibly entered the Capitol and that this action was so formidable that the law enforcement officers onsite could not control it. Moreover, contrary to President Trump’s assertion that no evidence in the record showed that the mob was armed with deadly weapons or that it attacked law enforcement officers in a manner consistent with a violent insurrection, the district court found—and millions of people saw on live television, recordings of which were introduced into evidence in this case—that the mob was armed with a wide array of weapons. The court also found that many in the mob stole objects from the Capitol’s premises or from law enforcement officers to use as weapons, including metal bars from the police barricades and officers’ batons and riot shields and that throughout the day, the mob repeatedly and violently assaulted police officers who were trying to defend the Capitol. The fact that actual and threatened force was used that day cannot reasonably be denied.
¶187 Substantial evidence in the record further established that this use of force was concerted and public. As the district court found, with ample record support, “The mob was coordinated and demonstrated a unity of purpose . . . . They marched through the [Capitol] buildingchanting in a manner that made clear they were seeking to inflict violence against members of Congress and Vice President Pence.” And upon breaching the Capitol, the mob immediately pursued its intended target—the certification of the presidential election—and reached the House and Senate chambers within minutes of entering the building.
¶188 Finally, substantial evidence in the record showed that the mob’s unified purpose was to hinder or prevent Congress from counting the electoral votes as required by the Twelfth Amendment and from certifying the 2020 presidential election; that is, to preclude Congress from taking the actions necessary to accomplish a peaceful transfer of power. As noted above, soon after breaching the Capitol, the mob reached the House and Senate chambers, where the certification process was ongoing. Id. This breach caused both the House and the Senate to adjourn, halting the electoral certification process. In addition, much of the mob’s ire—which included threats of physical violence—was directed at Vice President Pence, who, in his role as President of the Senate, was constitutionally tasked with carrying out the electoral count. As discussed more fully below, these actions were the product of President Trump’s conduct in singling out Vice President Pence for refusing President Trump’s demand that the Vice President decline to carry out his constitutional duties.
¶189 In short, the record amply established that the events of January 6 constituted a concerted and public use of force or threat of force by a group of people to hinder or prevent the U.S. government from taking the actions necessary to accomplish the peaceful transfer of power in this country. Under any viable definition, this constituted an insurrection….
¶193 Turning to case law construing the meaning of “engaged in” for purposes of Section Three, although we have found little precedent directly on point, cases concerning treason that had been decided by the time the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified provide some insight into how the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment would have understood the term “engaged in.” For example, in Ex parte Bollman, 8 U.S. 75, 126 (1807), Chief Justice Marshall explained that “if a body of men be actually assembled for the purpose of effecting by force a treasonable purpose, all those who perform any part, however minute,or however remote from the scene of action, and who are actually leagued in the general conspiracy, are to be considered as traitors.” In other words, an individual need not directly participate in the overt act of levying war or insurrection for the law to hold him accountable as if he had… [Colorado Supreme Court, Anderson v. Griswold, ruling, 2023.12.19].
Trumpets are lodging all sorts of argument to preserve their Dear Leader’s place on the ballot that Trump himself would disregard if it didn’t go his way. Trump hasn’t been convicted of insurrection in a court of law! Applying the Fourteenth Amendment requires an act of Congress! The voters should decide whether Trump is qualified!
All of these arguments are garbage. Suppose Trump died and the GOP decided to run his son Baron for President. Baron will be two months shy of 19 years old on Inauguration Day 2025. Article 2 of the United States Constitution says individuals under the age of 35 are not eligible to the Office of President. No court needs to convict Baron of being under 35 to prevent him from running for President until 2044. Congress does not need to hold hearings and pass a resolution saying we can’t put an 18 year old on the November 2024 Presidential ballot. And even if voters in every state wanted to vote for an 18 year old, we wouldn’t let them. Basic and explicit principles of the Constitution don’t depend on, change with, or subordinate to trials, acts of Congress, or majority votes. If you’re 18, the Constitution says you can’t be President.
As with Article 2, likewise with the Fourteenth Amendment. The facts are clear: Trump engaged in insurrectionist actions that violated his Constitutional oath and thus disqualify him from the Presidency. Even if a lot of voters want him to be President, they can’t have him unless they change the Constitution.