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Trump Banned from Colorado Ballot: Supreme Court Cites Insurrection Clause

Historic Ruling

In an unprecedented move, the Colorado Supreme Court declared on December 19 that former President Donald Trump is ineligible to run for president under the U.S. Constitution’s Insurrection Clause. This marks the first time in U.S. history that Article 3 of the 14th Amendment has been invoked to disqualify a presidential candidate.

Four-to-Three Decision

The court’s ruling, with a slim majority of four to three, stated, “The majority of this court finds that Trump is not qualified to hold the office of president under Article 3 of the 14th Amendment.” Notably, all Colorado Supreme Court justices are appointed by Democratic governors.

Overturning the District Court Decision

This decision overturned a district court judge’s ruling, who previously held that Trump incited the insurrection during the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack. The district court judge, however, did not bar Trump from the ballot, citing ambiguity in whether the Insurrection Clause applies to the president.

Delay in Enforcement

The Colorado Supreme Court opted to delay the enforcement of its decision until January 4 or until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on the case. The court acknowledged the gravity of its decision, stating, “We do not come to these conclusions lightly” and emphasized the duty to enforce laws impartially.

Legal Battle Looms

Trump’s legal team has expressed its intention to appeal immediately to the U.S. Supreme Court if any decision disqualifies him. The final authority on constitutional matters rests with the U.S. Supreme Court, and Trump’s campaign is developing a response to the ruling.

Implications for Trump’s Electoral Strategy

While Trump did not need to win Colorado in the 2020 election, losing it by 13 percentage points, the court’s decision poses a threat to his political future. If other states follow Colorado’s example, Trump could face exclusion from the vote in critical battleground states.

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Deadline Pressure

Colorado officials emphasize the urgency of resolving the issue by January 5, the state’s deadline for printing presidential primary ballots. The decision has broader implications for the upcoming presidential election and could influence other ongoing legal actions seeking to disqualify Trump under Title III.

The Historical Context of the Insurrection Clause

Title III, designed to prevent former Confederate figures from returning to government after the Civil War, has rarely been invoked. The Colorado case is a historic precedent where the plaintiffs succeeded, arguing against Trump’s interpretation of the clause and contending that it should apply to all elected offices, including the presidency.

Legal Argument and Counterargument

The crux of the legal dispute revolves around the interpretation of “officers of the United States” and whether the president falls under this category. Trump’s lawyers convinced the district court judge that the language did not include the president, citing the president’s unique oath to “obey, preserve, and defend” the Constitution. However, Colorado’s Supreme Court sided with the argument that the Insurrection Clause should be applied uniformly to all elected positions.


The Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling sets the stage for a potential legal battle that could reach the highest echelons of the U.S. judicial system. As the legal and political implications unfold, this decision prompts a critical examination of the delicate balance between constitutional provisions and the eligibility of candidates for the highest office in the land.

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