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Colorado Secretary of State Silent on If She’ll Block Trump From Running in 2024

Two groups leading a statewide campaign to prohibit Trump from running cite the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Faith and Freedom Road to Majority conference at the Washington Hilton on June 24, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

The top state election official in Colorado is refusing to comment on whether she will block former President Donald Trump from appearing on the U.S. presidential ballot next fall, after civic engagement groups staged rallies and other actions this month asking her to do so based on the Insurrection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Mi Familia Vota, a civic engagement group that seeks to unite Latinx and immigrant communities “to promote social and economic justice,” and Free Speech for People, an organization that describes itself as “a leading force in the country for defending our Constitution and fulfilling the promise of political equality for all,” have requested that the secretaries of state in a number of states — including Colorado, California, Oregon, Georgia and Nevada — declare that Trump is an insurrectionist and thus disqualified from running due to his role in the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol building by a mob of his loyalists in 2021.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that no person may run for office again if they engaged, encouraged or otherwise aided an insurrection, which is how many experts have categorized the January 6 Capitol attack.

The two organizations are focusing on those states specifically “to make sure that they are taking a stand by disqualifying Trump in those spaces, which is something that the secretary of state can do,” Héctor Sánchez, executive director of Mi Familia Vota, said earlier this month.

“The evidence is overwhelming that Donald Trump incited and mobilized the insurrection on January 6, 2021, at our nation’s Capitol,” Alexandra Flores-Quilty, campaign director for Free Speech For People, said in a statement last Wednesday. “The U.S. Constitution is clear that anyone who takes an oath of office and then engages in insurrection is forever barred from holding public office again. Election officials must carry out their duty, follow this constitutional mandate, and bar Trump from the ballot.”

The groups have sent letters to state officials, held rallies and dropped banners outside of secretary of state offices. They are calling the campaign “Trump Is Disqualified” and have timed it to coincide with the 155th anniversary of the passage of the 14th Amendment.

Last Thursday, the office of Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) declined to speak to The Colorado Newsline about the campaign.

“We are going to officially decline to comment at this time,” Annie Orloff, a spokesperson for Griswold, told the publication.

If Griswold or other state election officials do decide to bar Trump from running in their states, they would be provided a template for doing so, as the groups have crafted a legal outline of the filing they could submit. That outline, which contains several pages of legal precedent and argument, includes the following conclusion:

On January 20, 2017, Trump swore an oath to support the Constitution as an officer of the United States, i.e., as president. The events of January 6, 2021 constituted an “insurrection” within the meaning of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, and Trump “engaged” in that insurrection within the meaning of Section Three. Consequently, he is disqualified from holding “any office” under the United States — including the presidency.

Collectively, the five states the groups have targeted comprise 94 Electoral College votes. However, because some of them are considered Democratic “safe” states, it’s likely that only two states — Georgia, which is rated as a “toss up” in 2024 by Roll Call, and Nevada, which is deemed “competitive” — would have an effect on the final outcome of the race, if their state officials do bar Trump from running.

Any attempt to do what Mi Familia Vota and Free Speech for People are calling for would inevitably end up in the courts, and it’s possible that officials wouldn’t come to a decision before Election Day 2024.

The groups have indicated that they will continue their efforts to bar Trump from running for president next fall, and will seek to block him from running in other states as well.

“We will continue our campaign with Mi Familia Vota Education Fund to press secretaries of state and chief election officials across the country to follow the mandate of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and bar Donald Trump from appearing on any future ballot,” John C. Bonifaz, President of Free Speech For People, wrote in an email to Truthout. “Trump is the Jefferson Davis of our time, and the Insurrectionist Disqualifications Clause of the U.S. Constitution makes clear that he is disqualified from holding any future public office.”

“While secretaries of state and chief election officials must carry out their duty to uphold this critical constitutional provision, we will also take legal action in multiple states to challenge Trump’s eligibility to appear on the ballot,” Bonifaz added.

Other groups are calling for a civil lawsuit in federal court to block Trump from running. This week, for example, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) issued a report providing dozens of pages of arguments and legal theories that they say warrants prohibiting Trump from running for any office, let alone the presidency.

“Donald Trump is neither above the law, nor is he above democracy,” CREW concluded in its report. “Overwhelming evidence establishes that President Trump was the central cause of and a participant in the insurrection. Because of that, Trump is disqualified from holding any public office, including the Office of the President, under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

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