US Supreme Court to hear Donald Trump appeal on Colorado ballot

Western US state disqualified former president for re-election bid on basis of engaging in January 6 insurrection

Republican presidential candidate and former US president Donald Trump will have his appeal of a Colorado ballot disqualification heard at the country's top court. Reuters
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The US Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear Donald Trump's appeal of a judicial decision barring the former president from the state's Republican primary ballot, with the case having major implications for the 2024 presidential election.

At issue is the Colorado Supreme Court's December 19 ruling disqualifying Mr Trump from the state's Republican primary ballot based on language in the US Constitution's 14th Amendment concerned with engaging in insurrection, with the former president accused of inciting the January 6, 2021, Capitol riots.

The justices made their decision to hear the case with unusual speed. Mr Trump, the front-runner for his party's nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the November election, filed his appeal on Wednesday. The state Republican Party on December 27 also appealed the ruling.

The state court, acting in a challenge to Mr Trump by Republican and unaffiliated voters in Colorado, found Mr Trump ineligible for the presidency under a constitutional provision that bars anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding public office.

Trump disqualified from standing for President in Colorado

Trump disqualified from standing for President in Colorado

The Colorado case thrusts the Supreme Court – whose 6-3 conservative majority includes three justices appointed by Mr Trump – into the unprecedented and politically fraught effort to invalidate his bid to reclaim the White House.

Many Republicans have decried the disqualification as election interference, while proponents of disqualification have said holding Mr Trump constitutionally accountable for an insurrection supports democratic values.

He already faces criminal charges in two cases related to his effort to overturn his 2020 election loss to Mr Biden.

Mr Trump also has appealed a Maine court a decision by that state's top election official barring him from the primary ballot under the same constitutional provision at issue in the Colorado case.

While the Colorado case could hamper Mr Trump's bid to win back the presidency, it also has major implications for the justices. Given the political nature of the dispute, they run the risk of appearing partisan whichever way they lean.

Their action will shape a wider effort to disqualify Mr Trump from other state ballots as the 2024 election draws closer.

Colorado and Maine are both Democratic-leaning states and non-partisan US political analysts forecast that both states are unlikely to back a Republican presidential candidate on November 5. But there are efforts under way in other states – including competitive Michigan – that could shape the election's outcome.

The Colorado court's ruling marked the first time in history that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment – the so-called disqualification clause – was used to deem a presidential candidate ineligible.

Updated: January 06, 2024, 12:47 AM