WASHINGTON—Donald Trump is disqualified from serving as president and barred from appearing on ballots for president in Colorado under the 14th Amendment, according to a Colorado Supreme Court ruling issued today in a case brought on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the firms Tierney Lawrence Stiles LLC, KBN Law, LLC and Olson Grimsley Kawanabe Hinchcliff & Murray LLC. This is the first time a presidential candidate has been disqualified or removed from a ballot under the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the president is an “officer” under the United States Constitution and that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment applies to the president, reversing a ruling by a district court in November that Trump could appear on Colorado ballots for president despite engaging in insurrection on January 6, 2021. The Colorado Supreme Court ruling also denied Donald Trump’s appeal on eleven issues, affirming that Trump engaged in insurrection and that his actions on and leading up to January 6, 2021 are not protected by the First Amendment. 

“My fellow plaintiffs and I brought this case to continue to protect the right to free and fair elections enshrined in our Constitution and to ensure Colorado Republican primary voters are only voting for eligible candidates. Today’s win does just that,” said petitioner and former Republican majority leader of the Colorado House and Senate Norma Anderson. “Long before this lawsuit was filed, I had already read Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and concluded that it applied to Donald Trump, given his actions leading up to and on January 6th. I am proud to be a petitioner, and gratified that the Colorado Supreme Court arrived at the same conclusion we all did.”

“The court’s decision today affirms what our clients alleged in this lawsuit: that Donald Trump is an insurrectionist who disqualified himself from office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment based on his role in the January 6th attack on the Capitol, and that Secretary Griswold must keep him off of Colorado’s primary ballot. It is not only historic and justified, but is necessary to protect the future of democracy in our country,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder. “Our Constitution clearly states that those who violate their oath by attacking our democracy are barred from serving in government. It has been an honor to represent the petitioners, and we look forward to ensuring that this vitally important ruling stands.”

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, also known as the Disqualification Clause, bars any person from holding federal or state office who took an “oath…to support the Constitution of the United States” and then has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump stood before the nation and took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” After losing the 2020 presidential election, Trump violated that oath by recruiting, inciting and encouraging a violent mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a futile attempt to remain in office.

“We are gratified by the Colorado Supreme Court’s determination that Trump is disqualified from appearing on any Colorado ballot. He betrayed his oath to the Constitution by engaging in insurrection against it, and by doing so he made himself ineligible for public office,” said Sean Grimsley of Olson Grimsley Kawanabe Hinchcliff & Murray LLC. “We hope and believe other states will now follow suit.”

This is the second time that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment has been used to bar officials who participated in the January 6th insurrection from elected office. Last year, CREW represented residents of New Mexico who sued to remove county commissioner Couy Griffin from office, the first successful case to be brought under Section 3 since 1869. The judge in that case determined January 6th was an insurrection under the Constitution and removed Griffin from office based on his engagement in the insurrection.

Photos by Gage Skidmore and Tyler Merbler under a Creative Commons license