Donald Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to ensure he can appear on primary ballots across the country this spring by invalidating a ruling from Colorado’s top court that said Trump is ineligible to serve as president again.

Last month the Colorado Supreme Court concluded Trump engaged in an insurrection before and during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and as a result could not appear on the state’s primary ballot. It marked the first time a court has said a candidate could be removed from the ballot based on a post-Civil War provision of the U.S. Constitution that bars insurrectionists from holding office.

Last week, Maine’s secretary of state announced Trump would be barred from that primary ballot as well – a decision that Trump has appealed in state court and could eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court as well.

Both states temporarily put their decisions to keep Trump off the ballot on hold so they can be appealed.

Under the Colorado decision, which is also the focus of a separate appeal filed by the Colorado Republican Party, the former president’s name will remain on the primary ballot until the U.S. Supreme Court takes action. In Maine, Trump’s name will stay on the primary ballot until a state judge reviews the issue.

Both states hold their primaries on Super Tuesday, March 5, but ballots must be printed well before then. Under federal law, ballots for overseas voters must be mailed by Jan. 20, and ballots for other voters must be available a few weeks later.


Trump, the 2024 Republican frontrunner, has said it is undemocratic for a court or state official to keep him from running. He would have no way to win if other states followed the lead of Maine and Colorado and tried to bar him from their ballots. The former president has been charged in federal and state court in connection with his efforts to block Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. But those criminal trials have not happened yet, and neither case charges him with insurrection. He has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Election 2024 Trump Insurrection Amendment

Former President Donald Trump has appealed a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court to remove him from the state’s presidential primary ballot. Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Challenges to Trump’s eligibility for office, related to his efforts to overturn the election results, have been filed around the country. The highest courts in Michigan and Minnesota have allowed Trump to appear on the ballot in those states, and other cases are pending, including one before Oregon’s top court.

The U.S. Supreme Court is not obligated to take the Colorado case, but the justices are likely to intervene in such a consequential matter, and legal scholars have urged the court to act quickly so all states follow the same policies. Without a ruling from the nation’s high court, some states could allow Trump on the ballot while others bar him from it.

The Colorado case is just one of several novel and significant questions before the U.S. Supreme Court that have the potential to dramatically impact next year’s presidential election. The court has already said it will examine the validity of a law used to charge people, including Trump, in connection with efforts to overturn the 2020 election results or the Jan. 6 attack. Trump’s claim that he is protected by presidential immunity from prosecution for alleged election interference is also likely to return to the high court after review by an appeals court that will hear oral arguments on Tuesday.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution, central to the Colorado case, was adopted three years after the end of the Civil War in 1868. The amendment provided citizenship to those born or naturalized in the United States and guaranteed equal protection of the law to all, including those who had been enslaved. Section 3 of the amendment prevented people from holding office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after swearing an oath to support the Constitution.

Initially, the provision was meant to keep former Confederates from returning to power. But Trump’s opponents cited it as a reason the former president — whose false claims of election fraud inspired many rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — could not run for office again. They filed lawsuits across the country, but so far have prevailed only in Colorado and Maine.


Trump has called the strategy an attempt to deprive his supporters of a chance to exercise their right to vote for the candidate of their choice. His attorneys have made several arguments about why he should be able to run: They say Jan. 6 was not an insurrection; Trump did not engage in or encourage violent behavior; Section 3 does not apply to the presidency; and only Congress has the authority to enforce Section 3 — not courts or state officials.

Trump’s opponents have said the Constitution’s prohibition on allowing insurrectionists to serve in office is clear. Trump alone is responsible for sidelining himself from another presidential run, they say, because he summoned his supporters to Washington and told them to march to the U.S. Capitol and “fight like hell” just as Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden’s election victory.

Trump was impeached for inciting an insurrection in the House but acquitted in the Senate. He is criminally charged in federal court in Washington D.C. with four counts: conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing a congressional proceeding and conspiracy against rights, in this case the right to vote. But special counsel Jack Smith has not charged him with insurrection.

The former president also has been indicted on state charges in Georgia in connection with his efforts to block Biden’s victory there.

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