US Supreme Court to hear Trump appeal of decision to remove him from Colorado primary ballot News
Sgt. Dana M Clarke // Public domain
US Supreme Court to hear Trump appeal of decision to remove him from Colorado primary ballot

The US Supreme Court agreed to hear former President Donald Trump’s appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court decision barring him from the state’s 2024 primary ballot.

In a one-page unsigned order, the court scheduled oral arguments for February 8. Additionally, the court ordered Trump to submit a brief in support of his decision by January 18 and a response brief by January 31.

Before the court agreed to hear the case, Democrats from the House of Representatives wrote to Justice Clarence Thomas, asking him to recuse himself from this issue. The letter asserts that Thomas’ “wife’s intimate involvement in Mr. Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election and to obstruct its certification” results in partiality. The letter also cited to the court’s recently adopted code of ethics.

The Colorado Supreme Court barred Trump from appearing on the state’s primary ballot last month, saying he is disqualified from holding office under Section 3 of the US Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. This amendment was added to the US Constitution after the Civil War to prevent Confederates from returning to their former government offices. Section 3 states that anyone who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same [the US Constitution], or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” is disqualified from holding elected office. The court said that this applies to Trump because he engaged in insurrection following the 2020 election, culminating in the January 6 attacks on the US Capitol, and that Section 3 applies to the presidency because it is an office of the United States that includes an oath to protect the Constitution.

Several weeks after the Colorado court’s decision, police arrested a man who allegedly broke into the Colorado Supreme Court, discharged a weapon and set a small fire. Despite the timing, Colorado State Patrol said in a news release to the press that there was a “high probability” that the incident was not related to threats made on Colorado Supreme Court justices regarding the presidential ballot decision.

Maine also removed Trump from its 2024 ballot last week. Trump subsequently appealed that decision on Tuesday. Additionally, Massachusetts voters filed an objection on Thursday to the state official responsible for overseeing elections, seeking to remove Trump from the state’s 2024 Republican primary ballot. 

The question of Trump’s eligibility for office following January 6 is taking center stage as the US enters a presidential election year and amid Trump’s numerous legal battles, including an indictment related to his 2020 election interference. Although the question falls largely along partisan lines, some liberal critics oppose Trump’s removal from the ballot and some conservative legal scholars support it.