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Capitol police recall violence on Jan 6 and ask Supreme Court to disqualify Trump from ballot

A group of Capitol Police officers who were present during the January 6 attack have filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to dismiss Donald Trump’s First Amendment argument and uphold Colorado’s ruling disqualifying him from the presidential primary ballot.

“Trump’s First Amendment defenses to the question of whether he engaged in insurrection and should be disqualified from being listed on the 2024 presidential primary ballot under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the group of police officers wrote.

In December, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Mr Trump was ineligible to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot because he violated Section Three of the 14th Amendment due to his alleged involvement in the insurrection on 6 January 2021. Mr Trump appealed the decision, which is now in the hands of the US Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, hours before the deadline to submit briefs, Capitol Police officers emphasised their position that the former president should be held accountable for inciting violence on January 6, which ultimately led to the death of three officers.

The officers recalled fearing for their lives as they were “violently assaulted, spat on, tear-gassed, bear-sprayed” and subject to “racial slurs and epithets” at the hands of Trump supporters who were made to believe the 2020 election was stolen and they could stop it.

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

“Mr Trump’s January 6 speech bears all the hallmarks of incitement. Starting with the lead-up to January 6, Mr. Trump had already stoked feelings of distrust and anger among his supporters with respect to the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election,” the Capitol officers said in their brief.

Citing Brandenburgv Ohio (1969), officers and their counsel said when Mr Trump directed followers to the Capitol to “fight like hell” and “take back our country” it was inciting lawless action.

Brandenburg was a landmark case that determined the government may not punish inflammatory speech unless it directs, incites or produces lawless action.

Among the arguments Mr Trump has made, one is that his speech leading up to and on January 6th was not incendiary and thus protected under the First Amendment

The Capitol Police’s amicus brief only argued on Mr Trump’s First Amendment argument and took no position on other questions presented in the case like if Colorado erred in their decision to remove him from their presidential primary ballot or if the president is technically an officer of the US.

The Capitol Police’s brief was one of more than 50 amici submitted to the court in, Trump v Anderson et al – a case that is being closely followed by millions as it will determine whether or not Mr Trump may appear on primary presidential ballots.

Oral arguments are expected to occur next Thursday.