Colorado Supreme Court will hear appeal of ruling that Trump can stay on ballot despite insurrection

Sean Grimsley, attorney for the petitioners, delivers closing arguments in a hearing for a lawsuit to keep former President Donald Trump off the state ballot in court, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, Pool)

DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear appeals from both a liberal group that sought to disqualify Donald Trump and the former president himself after a state judge ruled that Trump "engaged in insurrection” on Jan. 6, 2021, but can still appear on the state's ballot.

Oral arguments will take place Dec. 6, the court announced.

The appeals were filed Monday night. The ruling by District Court Judge Sarah Wallace on Friday — which said Trump is not covered by the Constitution’s ban on insurrectionists holding office — was the latest in a series of defeats for the effort to end Trump's candidacy with Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

A group in Michigan has filed an appeal with that state's Supreme Court.

The constitutional provision has only been used a handful of times since the years after the Civil War. It was created to prevent former Confederates from returning to government positions.

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filing on behalf of a group of Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters, argued that Wallace was wrong in ruling that it's not clear the provision was intended to apply to presidents.

The section prevents those who took an oath to support the Constitution from serving in Congress, the Electoral College “or as an officer of the United States." It does not specifically mention the presidency.

Based on common sense alone, the appeal states, “there would be no reason to allow Presidents who lead an insurrection to serve again while preventing low-level government workers who act as foot soldiers from doing so. And it would defy logic to prohibit insurrectionists from holding every federal or state office except for the highest and most powerful in the land.”

Trump, meanwhile, appealed Wallace's finding that he did engage in insurrection and questioned whether a state court judge like her, rather than Congress, should settle the issue.

The case will be heard by the seven justices on the state court, all of whom were appointed by Democrats.

Colorado officials have urged a final decision by Jan. 5, 2024, when they must finalize their primary ballot. The next step after Colorado's high court would be the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled on Section 3.

Trump has slammed the lawsuits as “election interference” by Democratic “dark money” groups.