Saying former President Donald Trump did participate in an insurrection but can’t be barred from reelection under the 14th Amendment, a Colorado District Court has ordered the state to put former President Donal Trump on its 2024 ballot.
The Denver District Court is in a completely different court system than the Albany County District Court in Wyoming, where a retired Laramie attorney has launched a similar challenge.
But Denver District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace’s Friday order could factor into the Wyoming-based case, since the ruling adds to the growing volume of rejected challenges to balloting Trump nationwide.
The ruling also discusses former Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and whether the investigation into Jan. 6, 2021, was credible enough for the court to consider.
Trump’s attorney argued in Denver that the findings of the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack about the breach of the U.S. Capitol were biased because the Wyoming delegate and her eight colleagues held a “deep personal animus” toward him.
The Denver judge found Cheney’s investigative committee’s findings credible despite Trump’s arguments and admitted them as evidence.
Meanwhile, the Wyoming case challenging Trump's appearance on the ballot has not yet been set for a hearing. Retired attorney Tim Newcomb filed that lawsuit Nov. 1.
Ultimately, the judge ruled that Trump did participate in an insurrection by “inciting” the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
She considered whether Trump’s language about the 2020 election being stolen and other inflammatory speech elements leading up to that moment amounted to “engaging” in the attack.
The 14th Amendment, Section 3 bars people from office who have “engaged” in an insurrection, not who have merely incited one.
Judge Wallace wrote that the leaders of such attacks rarely are on the ground during them.
“Instigation and incitement are typically actions taken by those in leadership roles,” she wrote. “To exclude from disqualification such people would seem to defeat the purpose of (the Amendment).”
‘Troubling To The Court’
But Trump can’t be disqualified from a presidential election under the 14th Amendment’s Section 3, the judge decided.
The 14th Amendment is a post-Civil War addition to the U.S. Constitution. Republicans in Congress penned the amendment’s Section 3 to prevent Confederate leaders from returning to political positions after the war.
There have been multiple legal challenges and questions nationwide as to whether this section disqualifies Trump because of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.
It doesn’t, Judge Wallace ruled.
An earlier draft of Section 3 discussed disqualifying the president and vice president from serving. The final draft did not. Instead, it listed congressional delegates, then state legislative delegates, then executive and judicial state officers.
“To lump the Presidency in with any other civil or military office is odd indeed and very troubling to the Court because as Intervenors point out, Section Three explicitly lists all federal elected positions except the President and Vice President,” wrote the judge.
Attorneys for both Trump and the Colorado Republican State Central Committee noted five other examples where the U.S. Constitution distinguishes between the president and other officers serving under the United States.
Wallace said the examples bolstered their argument against slicing Trump from the ballot.
“The Court ORDERS the Secretary of State to place Donald J. Trump on the presidential primary ballot when it certifies the ballot on January 5, 2024,” Wallace concluded.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.