OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A state judge in Colorado has ruled in former President Donald Trump’s latest attempt to get a lawsuit thrown out that seeks to block him from appearing on the presidential ballot next year under a provision of the 14th Amendment.
In a 24-page ruling, “Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace rejected Trump’s argument that matters of ballot eligibility are limited to Congress, not the courts,” The Hill reported on Friday, adding: “Wallace also opposed Trump’s argument that state election officials cannot invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.”
Wallace wrote: “The Court holds that states can, and have, applied Section 3 pursuant to state statutes without federal enforcement legislation.”
At issue is a lawsuit that invokes a section of the Civil War-era 14th Amendment that bars Americans from holding elected office who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States.”
The Hill adds:
The suit was filed last month by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated voters in Colorado that include former federal, state and local officials. It is part of a wider argument by some legal scholars and lawmakers that Trump is disqualified from the ballot under the 14th Amendment for his alleged actions related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the Capitol.
Wallace’s ruling comes ahead of a trial that is scheduled to begin Oct. 30.
Importantly, Trump has not been charged with, or convicted of, “insurrection.” The former president’s political enemies have seized upon the term to describe a riot that occurred at the Capitol building that day following a “Stop the Steal” speech by Trump in Washington, D.C., during which he advised supporters to “peacefully” march to the building to demonstrate as lawmakers inside were preparing to certify the November 2020 election for Joe Biden.
Trump has been charged in relation to the incident by special counsel Jack Smith; however, “insurrection” and “sedition” are not among the allegations.
Earlier in the week, Wallace similarly rejected a filing by Trump to dismiss the case without providing any insight into an opinion on the matter one way or another.
MSNBC reported that the decision meant the case moved a step closer to trial.
“Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace called ‘pivotal’ the legal question of investigation and enforcement of the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause. But in resolving several issues in a Friday ruling, she said that crucial matters are ‘best reserved for trial,’” the outlet reported.
Cases similar to the one in Colorado have also been filed in other states and venues, including Minnesota, where oral arguments have been scheduled for Nov. 2, and Michigan.
Prior to facing any criminal charges, Trump previously fought off federal lawsuits that claimed he bore civil liability for the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.
To dismiss these lawsuits, Trump claimed absolute immunity, a claim that has been rejected by two federal judges in four cases filed in the same courthouse as Trump’s election subversion case in Washington, D.C.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is currently considering an appeal in the case of U.S. Capitol Police Officer James Blassingame, for which oral arguments were held earlier this year. While the potential outcomes of the civil and criminal cases couldn’t be more different (monetary damages and jail time, respectively), they share a central issue: whether Trump is immune from prosecution for his actions as president.
Trump’s legal team plans to raise the issue of executive immunity “very soon” in criminal court, and a source familiar with their strategy said that this pending civil appeal is the best chance of getting the Supreme Court to rule on the matter.