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Watchdog group sues to block Trump from ballot in Colorado, citing 14th Amendment disqualification clause


A Washington-based advocacy group filed a lawsuit Wednesday to bar former President Donald Trump from participating in Colorado’s 2024 Republican primary, citing the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurgents holding public office.

In recent weeks, a growing number of liberal and conservative lawyers have adopted a long-term legal strategy. The lawsuit, filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is the first high-profile court case seeking to use the 14th Amendment to derail Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing regarding the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol and said in a recent social media post that there was “no legal basis” for using the 14th Amendment to remove it from the Senate. ballot.

A provision of the post-Civil War 14th Amendment states that any U.S. official who takes an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution is disqualified from future office if he “has engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or has “brought his aid or comfort” to insurgents.

However, the Constitution does not specify how to enforce this prohibition, and it has only been enforced twice since the late 1800s, when it was widely used against former Confederates.

The lawsuit was filed by CREW on behalf of six Colorado voters, who the group says are Independents or Republicans, including former U.S. Representative Claudine Schneider and former Colorado Senate Majority Leader Norma Anderson, both republicans.

Noah Bookbinder, president of CREW, told CNN’s Abby Phillip on “NewsNight” on Wednesday that the group chose Colorado because of its “courageous complainants,” early standing in the primaries and legislation.

“For all these reasons, we thought it was a good first stop. It will not be the last step and we and others will also carry other cases,” he said.

CREW is responsible for the most successful application of the “disqualification clause”. A convicted Jan. 6 rioter who was also an elected county commissioner in New Mexico was removed from office last year on the basis of the 14th Amendment, through a different but related legal mechanism initiated by CREW .

The nonprofit group sued Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold in state court on Wednesday and asked a judge to issue an order ‘declaring Trump disqualified under the Fourteenth Amendment’ and barring Griswold from “to take any measure that would allow him to access the ballot”.

“Because Trump took an oath to ‘preserve, protect, and defend’ the Constitution when he took office on January 20, 2017, and then engaged in an insurrection against the Constitution on and around January 6, 2021, he is disqualified under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment from “holding) any office…in the United States,” including the office of President,” the lawsuit states.

Griswold, a Democrat, said in a statement that she believes Colorado state law is “unclear” on how to review constitutional requirements for “knowing whether a candidate is eligible for office.” and that the recently filed lawsuit would provide crucial legal guidance.

“I look forward to substantial resolution of the issues by the Colorado court and hope that this case will provide some guidance to election officials on Trump’s eligibility as a candidate for office,” Griswold said.

The GOP primary in Colorado will take place on March 5, which is Super Tuesday. Trump’s federal criminal trial on charges stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election is scheduled to begin on March 4. He pleaded not guilty.

In a statement after the lawsuit was filed, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said 14th Amendment supporters are “stretching the law beyond recognition, much like political prosecutors in New York.” , Georgia and Washington DC,” referring to pending criminal charges against Trump. .

Trump has a sizable lead in the GOP primary race, according to a recent poll.

Legal scholars are divided on how the 14th Amendment might apply to Trump and how the ban would even be implemented, whether by election officials, Congress or a court, given the constitutional ambiguities. Many expect the Supreme Court to ultimately rule on the matter one way or another.

This story has been updated with additional information.