February 22, 2024

The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that Donald Trump’s name cannot appear on the state’s Republican Presidential-primary ballot due to his participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection. The court’s 4–3 majority found that Trump is disqualified from serving in any office under the U.S. or any state. Trump and others involved with January 6th may not even be eligible for local positions such as running a post-office branch or being a property appraiser. The decision has raised fundamental questions about whom we trust to effectively bar people from governing the country. The court stayed the decision to allow Trump a chance to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Risks such as election interference and unprecedented confusion about Trump’s ballot placement have emerged as a result of the Colorado decision. The court found that states could write their own rules for implementing Section 3 disqualifications, which was strongly opposed by a dissenting justice. The analysis of Section 3 is not determined by partisan alliance, and if the U.S. Supreme Court adopts the Colorado majority’s reasoning, it could lead to an unravelling of the electoral system.

Section 3 was directed at Confederates who had previously taken an oath of office and has barely been invoked since its ratification in 1868. The Colorado court’s ruling and the lower court’s application of the state election statute have been heavily criticized for a lack of due process. There are serious concerns related to the fair outcome of the decision.