Colorado state Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) has filed a legal brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting actions by courts in her home state to disqualify Donald Trump from the presidential ballot this year over complaints from voters that he is an insurrectionist.
Griswold’s brief is more forceful than her previous comments on the issue have been. Throughout the litigation process that transpired in Colorado following six Republican and independent voters in the state suing to have Trump tossed from the ballot, Griswold displayed a more neutral tone, allowing the courts to arrive at their own decisions on the matter without her influence.
In her legal filing submitted to the High Court on Wednesday, however, Griswold expressed that she agrees with the Colorado courts’ findings.
“While the facts and historical significance of this case are extraordinary, Colorado’s process for addressing Petitioner Trump’s qualifications was routine,” Griswold said in her legal brief.
“Over the decades, Colorado has repeatedly relied on this state court procedure to resolve ballot access and other election disputes presenting novel and complex issues of both fact and law, including issues of constitutional magnitude,” Griswold stated, adding that the pre-election judicial process for ballot eligibility “is an important pillar in Colorado’s gold standard election process.”
“This Court should reject Petitioner’s Trump’s attempts to limit state electoral authority to avoid resolution of this case,” Griswold said.
Colorado’s state Supreme Court, reacting to a lower court’s finding that Trump was indeed an insurrectionist due to his actions during the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol building by a mob of his loyalists, deemed him disqualified to run for president in the state under the terms of the 14th Amendment of the federal Constitution.
Section 3 of that amendment states that no person, “having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States,” can serve in government office again if they “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. government “or given aid or comfort” to those who have.
Trump’s actions on January 6 arguably fit the bill; the former president riled up his loyalists with an incendiary speech about election fraud, then encouraged his followers to go to the Capitol, where the 2020 presidential election — which he lost to President Joe Biden — was being certified.
During the violent breach of the building, Trump refused, for several hours, to call off the mob or order the national guard to take action against them, instead using the opportunity to try to influence lawmakers to vote against the certification of the election. In his message finally telling his loyalists to leave, he told them he “loved” them.
Griswold noted that Trump needed to be treated just as any other person seeking to run for president would be.
“Just as Colorado cannot be forced to place on its presidential primary ballot a naturalized citizen, a minor, or someone twice elected to the presidency, it also should not be forced to include a candidate found by its courts to have violated his oath to support the Constitution by engaging in insurrection,” Griswold stated.
Dozens of amicus briefs have been filed to the Supreme Court by other interested parties in the case, including current and former Capitol Police officers who dealt directly with the mob of Trump loyalists who attacked the Capitol, as well as a group of former state Supreme Court justices in support of Colorado’s actions. Both of those briefs encourage the Court to allow states to disqualify Trump.
The case has implications for other states, too. Maine’s secretary of state declared Trump ineligible to run for president in that state, and several other states across the country are currently considering challenges to his eligibility from voters in their jurisdictions.
If disqualified by even a small handful of states, it would limit Trump’s path to garnering enough Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency in November.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on February 8. Many analysts expect that the 6-3 conservative majority Supreme Court — which includes three justices who Trump himself appointed — will not disqualify Trump from being able to run, and won’t allow individual states to decide for themselves if he is qualified. But recent polling shows that most Americans would oppose such a ruling.
According to an ABC News/Ipsos poll from mid-January, a plurality of Americans, 49 percent, back Colorado and Maine’s actions to disqualify Trump, with 46 percent disagreeing with those moves. On the larger question of what the Supreme Court should do, only 39 percent of Americans believe the Court should rule in a way that allows Trump to be on every state ballot in the country.
Meanwhile, 56 percent of Americans said they believe the Court should take one of two actions limiting Trump’s ability to run: either letting states decide individually (26 percent) or ruling that Trump should be ineligible throughout the entire U.S. (30 percent), deeming him an insurrectionist who is disqualified under the 14th Amendment.