Colorado judge lets Trump stay on ballot but says he incited riots


  Former U.S. President Donald Trump. File

Former U.S. President Donald Trump. File
| Photo Credit: VIA REUTERS

A Colorado state judge on Friday ruled that Donald Trump can remain on the state’s presidential primary ballot, finding that while he incited political violence during the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, he did not violate his oath of office by doing so.

Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace’s ruling follows similar court decisions in several other states that have left Mr. Trump on the ballot.

The ruling marks a victory for the former Republican president as he staves off well-funded legal challenges seeking to bar his return to the White House in elections next year.

Mr. Trump has yet to be removed from a single ballot as the political season unfolds.

The judge’s ruling laid blame on Mr. Trump for inciting supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol in 2021 to thwart the certification of election winner Joe Biden but said it was unclear if an amendment to the constitution would bar him from office.

The lawsuit was filed in Colorado by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a Washington-based watchdog group, and sought to bar Mr. Trump from running for the White House again.

The argument, which has legal scholars sharply divided, rests on an amendment to the Constitution ratified after the 1861-65 Civil War.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment bars anyone from holding public office if they engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” after once pledging to support and defend the Constitution.

The amendment, ratified in 1868, was aimed at preventing supporters of the slave-holding Confederacy from being elected to Congress or from holding federal positions.

In her ruling, Judge Wallace concluded “that Mr. Trump acted with the specific intent to incite political violence and direct it at the Capitol” to halt the transfer of power to Biden.

By doing so, the judge said, Mr. Trump actively engaged in insurrection.

But she noted there were “persuasive arguments on both sides” as to whether presidents were meant to be included among those who could be barred from holding public office.

“It appears to the court that for whatever reason the drafters of Section Three did not intend to include a person who had only taken the Presidential Oath,” she wrote.

The Trump campaign hailed the judge’s ruling, calling it “another nail in the coffin of the un-American ballot challenges.”

“Challenges have now been defeated in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and New Hampshire,” Mr. Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement.

While Mr. Trump’s lawyers won the battle, similar legal efforts in other states may mean that the issue of Mr. Trump’s eligibility ends up before the US Supreme Court, where conservatives hold a 6-3 majority.

The 77-year-old Mr. Trump is to go on trial in Washington in March on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the November 2020 election won by Biden.


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