In a high-stakes showdown, former President Donald Trump plans to appeal rulings from Colorado and Maine that have banned him from appearing on their state’s ballots. The appeals would be made to the U.S. Supreme Court and Maine’s Superior Court.
This legal battle could bring Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the forefront. This provision was added to the Constitution after the Civil War to prevent former Confederates from holding public office. It states that anyone engaged in insurrection after swearing an oath to support the Constitution is no longer eligible for office.
These appeals come when tensions are rising over rulings that could potentially keep Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, off the primary ballots. However, the Maine and Colorado rulings are on hold until the appeals process concludes, meaning that Trump technically remains on the primary ballots in both states.
Adding to the drama, on Tuesday morning, a man was arrested in Denver after fleeing a car crash and entering the Colorado Supreme Court building. He allegedly pointed a gun at an unarmed security officer, gaining access to the entire building before firing his weapon multiple times. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident, and the motive behind the shooting remains unclear.
Last year, numerous lawsuits were filed against Trump, citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and arguing that he disqualified himself from the presidential race by inciting the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to prevent Joe Biden from assuming the presidency.
However, none of these lawsuits succeeded until the recent ruling by the Colorado court. Activists also urged election officials to exclude Trump from the ballot due to his alleged violation of Section 3. Still, no action was taken until Maine’s Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, barred him from appearing on the ballot a week after the Colorado ruling.
Legal experts warn that if the Supreme Court does not rule on the merits of these cases, it could lead to legal chaos for the states. Proponents of disqualifying Trump argue that Section 3 makes him ineligible for the presidency, similar to failing to meet other constitutional requirements like being a natural-born citizen and at least 35 years old.
However, Trump’s attorneys argue that this interpretation of the provision is misreading a rarely used and vaguely worded clause. They claim that the events of January 6 do not legally constitute an insurrection and that the provision does not apply to the president. They also argue that determining Trump’s eligibility for the ballot should not be left to unelected state judges.