A Colorado state judge on Friday ruled that Donald Trump can remain on the state’s presidential primary ballot, casting aside arguments that he violated the oath of office by engaging in an insurrection.
The ruling by Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace came after similar court decisions in Minnesota and Michigan that leave Trump on the ballot in those states.
The rulings mark a victory for the former Republican president as he staves off well-funded legal challenges seeking to bar his return to the White House in elections next year.
Trump has yet to be removed from a single ballot as the political season unfolds.
“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 said in her ruling.
The lawsuit filed in Colorado by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a Washington-based watchdog group, claims Trump is ineligible to run for the White House again because of the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.
While Trump’s lawyers won the battle, similar legal efforts in other states may mean that the issue of Trump’s eligibility ends up before the US Supreme Court, where conservatives hold a 6-3 majority.
The argument, which has legal scholars sharply divided, rests on an amendment to the Constitution ratified after the 1861-65 Civil War.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment bars anyone from holding public office if they engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” after once pledging to support and defend the Constitution.
The amendment, ratified in 1868, was aimed at preventing supporters of the slave-holding Confederacy from being elected to Congress or from holding federal positions.
In her ruling, Judge Wallace noted “persuasive arguments on both sides” but said she believes presidents were not meant to be included among those who could be barred from holding public office.
“It appears to the court that for whatever reason the drafters of Section Three did not intend to include a person who had only taken the Presidential Oath,” she wrote.
The 77-year-old Trump is to go on trial in Washington in March on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the November 2020 election won by Democrat Joe Biden.
He faces similar charges in a separate case in the southern state of Georgia.
Trump was impeached for a second time by the House of Representatives after the attack on the Capitol — he was charged with inciting an insurrection — but was acquitted by the Senate.
Trump has hit back at the efforts to remove him from the presidential ballot, saying they have “no legal basis.”
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