Trump Asks Supreme Court to Decide Whether He Can Be on Colorado Ballot

Trump Asks Supreme Court to Decide Whether He Can Be on Colorado Ballot
Trump Asks Supreme Court to Decide Whether He Can Be on Colorado Ballot

Former President Donald J. Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to keep him on the primary ballot in Colorado, appealing an explosive ruling from the state Supreme Court declaring him ineligible based on his efforts to overturn the 2020 election that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The move adds to the growing pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to act, given the number of challenges to Mr. Trump’s eligibility and the need for a nationwide resolution of the question as the primaries approach.

Mr. Trump’s petition seeking review of the state court’s ruling followed a similar one last week from the Colorado Republican Party. The six voters who had prevailed in the Colorado Supreme Court filed a motion urging the justices to put the case on an exceptionally fast track.

In a separate ruling last week, an election official in Maine agreed with the Colorado court that Mr. Trump is ineligible for another term. Mr. Trump appealed the decision from Maine to a state court there on Tuesday. Both rulings are on hold while appeals move forward, giving the U.S. Supreme Court some breathing room.

The cases turn on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Adopted after the Civil War, it bars those who had taken an oath “to support the Constitution of the United States” from holding office if they then “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Congress can remove the prohibition, the provision says, but only by a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

By a 4-to-3 vote, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in December that the provision applied to Mr. Trump, making his ineligible for another term.

“We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” the majority wrote. “We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.”

Mr. Trump’s petition attacked the ruling on many grounds. He said the events culminating in the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6 were not an insurrection. Even if they were, he said, he himself had not “engaged in insurrection.”

He said Section 3 did not apply to him because he had not taken the relevant kind of oath. And he said that the presidency was not one of the offices from which oath-breaking officials were barred.

More broadly, Mr. Trump’s petition said that the state court’s ruling was a product of partisanship rather than reasoned judgment, and that voters rather than judges should assess whether his conduct disqualified him from a second term.

The provision has never been used to disqualify a presidential candidate, but it has been the subject of cases involving other elected officials after the Jan. 6 attacks.

A state judge in New Mexico ordered Couy Griffin, a county commissioner in Otero County, removed from office under the clause. Mr. Griffin had been convicted of trespassing for entering a restricted area of the Capitol grounds during the attack.

Another state judge, in Georgia, assuming that the Jan. 6 attacks were an insurrection and that participating in them barred candidates from office, ruled that the actions of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, did not meet the standard for removal from the ballot.

The Colorado case is one of several involving or affecting Mr. Trump on the Supreme Court’s docket or on the horizon. After an appeals court rules on whether he has absolute immunity from prosecution, the justices may consider that question. And they will rule on the scope of a central charge in the federal election-interference case in a decision expected by June.