Colorado has removed Trump from the 2024 ballot. What happens now?

Following the historic ruling, here’s what could happen next in terms of an appeal, the 2024 race and retaliatory action by the Republican party

Rachel Sharp
Wednesday 20 December 2023 12:23 GMT
Donald Trump disqualified from Colorado's 2024 ballot

Donald Trump has been removed from Colorado’s 2024 presidential election ballot in a stunning, first-of-its-kind ruling by the state’s Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the justices in Colorado’s highest court issued a majority 4-3 ruling finding that the former president must be banned from running for a second term in the White House over his role in the January 6 Capitol riot, where a mob of his supporters stormed the seat of American democracy in a bid to overturn the 2020 election.

Under the 14th Amendment, anyone who “engaged in an insurrection” must be barred from holding office.

In the majority ruling, the Colorado justices found that Mr Trump did indeed incite the violent insurrection that day – and also continued to support it while it was under way.

“President Trump did not merely incite the insurrection. Even when the siege on the Capitol was fully underway, he continued to support it by repeatedly demanding that Vice President (Mike) Pence refuse to perform his constitutional duty and by calling Senators to persuade them to stop the counting of electoral votes,” the opinion reads.

“These actions constituted overt, voluntary, and direct participation in the insurrection.”

“We conclude that the foregoing evidence, the great bulk of which was undisputed at trial, established that President Trump engaged in insurrection.

“President Trump’s direct and express efforts, over several months, exhorting his supporters to march to the Capitol to prevent what he falsely characterized as an alleged fraud on the people of this country were indisputably overt and voluntary.”

The ruling comes after a state judge last month ruled that Mr Trump did indeed incite the insurrection – but that this did not mean she could remove him from the ballot.

An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of Donald Trump riot on January 6 2021 (REUTERS)

This ruling was appealed to the state’s Supreme Court, paving the way for Tuesday’s historic ruling.

The Colorado justice wrote in the opinion that they did “not reach these conclusions lightly”.

“We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us,” the ruling states.

We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.”

So – following this historic move – what happens next?

Trump to appeal ruling

The decision has been stayed until 4 January – one day before the deadline to set candidates for the Republican primary in March – so that Mr Trump is given time to appeal.

The Trump campaign has already vowed to swiftly lodge an appeal – while baselessly blaming President Joe Biden and election interference in an irate fundraising email.

“The Colorado Supreme Court issued a completely flawed decision tonight and we will swiftly file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court and a concurrent request for a stay of this deeply undemocratic decision,” campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement.

“We have full confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly rule in our favor and finally put an end to these unAmerican lawsuits.”

There appears to be a strong chance that the ruling will be overturned by the US Supreme Court – particularly in light of its make-up.

Six of the nine Supreme Court justices are conservative and three of them were appointed by Mr Trump himself.

Will this impact Trump’s 2024 chances – and other state ballots?

The ruling only applies to Colorado’s ballot and so – even if it is not overturned by the Supreme Court – it would only prevent Mr Trump from running for the 2024 election in the state.

Mr Biden won Colorado in the 2020 election and it is predominantly a blue state, so this may not hamper his chances of reclaiming the White House.

However, it remains to be seen whether the Colorado decision emboldens other states to follow suit and oust Mr Trump from their own ballots.

While Colorado is the first to remove Mr Trump, several other states have previously heard arguments that he should be banned under the 14th Amendment.

Former President Donald Trump attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York (2023 Getty Images)

Lawsuits to oust Mr Trump have previously been filed in Minnesota and Michigan.

Last month, the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected a bid to remove Mr Trump from the GOP primary ballot – but left open the possibility that challengers can try to remove him again if he wins the primary.

Meanwhile, a Michigan appeals court also ruled last week that it would not stop Mr Trump from appearing on the state ballot.

It remains to be seen if other states will now also follow in Colorado’s footsteps. Notably, if Republican-heavy or swing states take such action, it could have major implications on Mr Trump’s chances in the presidential race.

Backlash from GOP – and impact on Biden

Republicans have already widely condemned the action from Colorado’s Supreme Court – with even Mr Trump’s GOP 2024 rivals speaking out against the decision.

Some are already hinting at retaliatory action against Mr Biden.

In Texas, the Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has now threatened to remove the Democrat from the ballot in the state.

“Seeing what happened in Colorado makes me think – except we believe in democracy in Texas– maybe we should take Joe Biden off the ballot in Texas for allowing eight million people to cross the border since he’s been president disrupting our state,” Mr Patrick told Fox News on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Senator Thom Tillis has vowed to introduce legislation that will block states from removing presidential candidates from the ballot.

“Regardless of whether you support or oppose former President Donald Trump, it is outrageous to see left-wing activists make a mockery of our political system by scheming with partisan state officials and pressuring judges to remove him from the ballot,” Mr Tillis said in a statement on Tuesday.

“American voters, not partisan activists, should decide who we elect as our President. The Constitutional Election Integrity Act would put any constitutional challenges in the sole place they belong: the U.S. Supreme Court.”

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