Common Cause Files Brief in Lawsuit to Disqualify Trump from Ballot in Colorado

DENVER – Today, Colorado Common Cause and former Colorado Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan filed an amicus brief in the Colorado Supreme Court asserting that former President Donald Trump should be excluded from the ballot under the 14th Amendment for his role in the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“No one is above the law, including current and former presidents,” said Aly Belknap, executive director of Colorado Common Cause. “Donald Trump sent an armed mob to the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the election. His eligibility for the Colorado ballot has broad reaching implications for the permissible conduct of future presidents and other public officials. Colorado Common Cause is committed to holding the former President accountable to the people and to the Constitution.”

The lawsuit was initially filed in September on behalf of six Colorado voters by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government accountability and advocacy organization, and Martha Tierney, Common Cause’s National Governing Board Chair and member of the Colorado Common Cause State Advisory Board. The suit seeks to disqualify former President Donald Trump from office by enforcing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits those who violate their oaths of office by engaging in insurrection from holding public office. 

On November 17, Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace ruled that former President Donald Trump “engaged in an insurrection” on January 6, 2021, within the meaning of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The judge ultimately rejected the attempt to remove him from the state’s 2024 primary ballot, holding that the clause does not apply to the presidency. The case is now on appeal in the Colorado Supreme Court.

“Chaos and violence have no place in our democracy,” said Heather Ferguson, director of state operations for Common Cause. “The decision from the lower court found that former President Trump’s actions violated the Constitution and undermined the will of the people. He should not be given another opportunity to do so again.”

Specifically, Common Cause’s amicus brief urges that the Court affirm the findings of the District Court that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection against the Constitution of the United States, and that the Court reverse the finding that the disqualification clause does not apply to the presidency.

“There is no doubt that the Colorado courts have the responsibility to determine whether a candidate is qualified to appear on Colorado’s ballots, and that the Secretary of State must act in accordance with the Court’s decision. I should know,” said former Colorado Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan. “The trial court ruled that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection, which should result in his disqualification from office. To allow him on the Republican primary ballot would irrevocably damage our democracy, and undermine the rights of Republican voters like me.”

This case is historic in its aim to remove a presidential candidate from the ballot. The first successful enforcement of Section 3 in over 150 years occurred last year when a New Mexico court ruled that Couy Griffin, a New Mexico county commissioner, engaged in the January 6 insurrection. Upon the judge’s ruling that Griffin was disqualified under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, he was immediately removed from office.

“This country and its institutions are at a crossroads. Either the mandates of our Constitution will be honored and enforced, or they will be subverted,” said Levi A. Monagle, attorney with Hall Monagle Huffman & Wallace LLC representing Common Cause. “The Court must embrace its role as an active defender of our Constitution’s mandates, or those mandates will begin to crumble under the intense heat and force that they will inevitably face in years and elections to come.”

The next hearing will be Wednesday, December 6.

Read the full amicus brief here

Stay up to date on the case by visiting Colorado Common Cause’s website.

Read our joint report with CREW, Donald Trump: Threatening Courts and Undermining Justice.

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