Trump asks US Supreme Court to keep him on ballot in 14th Amendment case

The justices will hear arguments in the case Feb. 8.

January 18, 2024, 7:14 PM

Donald Trump on Thursday filed his brief with the U.S. Supreme Court ahead of the justices hearing arguments next month about whether the 14th Amendment's "insurrection clause" disqualifies him from running for president or holding the office again.

He asks that the judgment of the Colorado Supreme Court, which in December ruled him off the state's Republican primary ballot, be reversed.

In his appeal to the nation's highest court, Trump warns "chaos and bedlam" would ensue if Colorado or any other state is allowed to disqualify him from the 2024 primary and general-election ballots.

"The Court should put a swift and decisive end to these ballot-disqualification efforts, which threaten to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans and which promise to unleash chaos and bedlam if other state courts and state officials follow Colorado's lead and exclude the likely Republican presidential nominee from their ballots," Trump's legal team wrote in a 59-page brief.

The ruling from Colorado's high court marked the first time a challenge to Trump's candidacy under Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment had succeeded.

On Dec. 19, a majority of Colorado's seven justices said the former president was ineligible to appear on the state's Republican primary ballot in 2024 because he "engaged in insurrection" on Jan. 6, 2021.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump sits in New York State Supreme Court during the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization in New York, Jan. 11, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump sits in New York State Supreme Court during the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization in New York, Jan. 11, 2024.
Shannon Stapleton/POOL/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the Colorado case on Feb 8.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, says no person shall "hold any office" if as an "officer of the U.S." he or she previously "engaged in insurrection" or gave "aid or comfort" to insurrectionists.

The former president's appeal to the Supreme Court takes direct aim at the Colorado high court's interpretation of that law, which they call "dubious."

Trump alleges he was not an "officer of the U.S." as president; that he did not "engage in" anything close to "insurrection;" that the amendment is not enforceable without further action by Congress; and, that the amendment is only a prohibition against persons "holding office" not appearing on a ballot for office.

Maine's secretary of state later made a similar finding concerning the "engaged in insurrection" clause, a ruling deferred by a Maine trial court on Wednesday, pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Trump's ballot accessibility.

More than a dozen additional lawsuits on the topic are pending, with challenges in Minnesota, Michigan and Oregon rejected.

Trump's lawyers appealed the Colorado decision to the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 4, writing In a 43-page filing that "in our system of 'government of the people, by the people, [and] for the people,' Colorado's ruling is not and cannot be correct."

The brief filed Thursday also comes in addition to a number of amicus briefs filed on both the former president and the challengers' behalf. Earlier on Thursday, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, and 177 other members of Congress filed a brief in support of Trump.

Forty-two senators, led by Cruz, and 137 House members, led by Scalise, urged the nation's high court to reverse the Colorado Supreme Court's decision.

"As members of Congress, amici have a strong interest in vindicating and protecting the role of Congress in the context of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment," the members wrote.

The members also claimed that Section 3 does not apply to former President Trump and that the Colorado Supreme Court's decision failed to meaningfully define "Engage in Insurrection."