What happened in court on the first day of Donald Trump’s “disqualification” trial: A lawsuit in Colorado is seeking to bar the former president from the 2024 ballot in that state, on the grounds that the 14th Amendment does not allow insurrectionists to run for office.
Donald Trump, Disqualified?
A liberal group called CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington), with some help from Republican citizens and former elected officials in Colorado, has filed suit in that state, alleging that, under 14th Amendment grounds, former President Donald Trump should not be allowed on the ballot in 2024.
That hearing, one of multiple ones in different states, got underway on Monday, and CNN reported what was said.
Among those testifying for the plaintiffs were Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who was present at the Capitol on the day of January 6, and US Capitol Police officer who was there as well, while the plaintiffs’ attorney played footage from that day in court.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that Trump had “betrayed” his oath of office.
“Our Constitution prevents people who betrayed their solemn oath, as Trump did here, from serving in office again,” Eric Olson, an attorney for the challengers, said in court Monday. “Colorado law gives these voters the right to make sure their votes will count by coming to this court and ensuring that only eligible candidates appear on our ballots. Trump engaged in insurrection, and therefore cannot appear on the ballot.”
Trump’s attorneys, meanwhile, pushed back on the assertions.
“This court should not interfere with that fundamental value – that rule of democracy. It’s the people who get to decide, and this lawsuit seeks to cancel that principle,” Scott Gessler, a former Colorado secretary of state who is representing the former president, said in the hearing.
Trump did not appear in court for the hearing.
“When it comes to decide as to who should lead our nation, it’s the people of the United States of America that gets to make those decisions, not six voters in Colorado,” Gessler added.
The current Colorado Secretary of State, Jena Griswold, said outside the court that she hopes for “guidance” from the trial.
“We’ve never had this type of situation occur where a sitting president incites the insurrection and then has the audacity to run again,” Griswold told the media, per CNN. “So there are real questions about whether Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies him. I look forward to the judge giving guidance on the topic.”
Another hearing for a Trump disqualification lawsuit, in Minnesota, is scheduled for later this week.
The idea that Trump, due to the 14th Amendment, is not allowed to run for president gained some steam earlier this fall, when a pair of conservative law professors, William Baude of the University of Chicago Law School and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas, wrote a paper arguing exactly that. This is due to Section Three of the 14th Amendment, which was written after the Civil War.
“Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment forbids holding office by former office holders who then participate in insurrection or rebellion. Because of a range of misperceptions and mistaken assumptions, Section Three’s full legal consequences have not been appreciated or enforced.”
Earlier in October, a judge in Colorado rejected multiple attempts to toss the Trump disqualification case.
That Trump could actually be disqualified from the ballot is considered a long shot, and the matter will likely ultimately be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump, after all, has not been convicted of participating in an insurrection, nor do any of his current criminal charges allege that specifically. Also, should the case end up in the Supreme Court, three of the nine justices were appointed by Trump himself. And the court has already neglected to hear a different case seeking to disqualify Trump from the ballot.
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Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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