On Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Donald Trump is ineligible to hold office because of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause. The ruling is certain to head to the Supreme Court, but even before it lands in the lap of Chief Justice John Roberts and crew, this legal blast is generating significant fallout.
The immediate reaction of most Republican candidates is exactly what you might expect from people who are running either in hopes of being Trump’s number two or of raising their profiles for 2028. Nikki Haley made a bland statement about judges making these decisions when the issue should be in the hands of the voters. Chris Christie may win the award for silliest mish-mash in saying, “I just think what he’s done is horribly wrong and that he has reserved the right that we would give him as voters to lead us again.” Ron DeSantis said … nothing.
But it was fading candidate Vivek Ramaswamy who jumped straight to a pearl-clutching loyalty stunt by declaring that he would remove himself from Colorado’s ballot unless they put Trump back. Then the Colorado GOP raised Ramaswamy’s bet by threatening to scratch the whole primary.
Ramaswamy starts by slamming the Colorado Supreme Court. Or the groups who filed suit. Or Democrats. Or whoever it is making up the “they” in his statement. “They have just tried to bar President Trump from the Colorado ballot using an unconstitutional maneuver that is a bastardization of the 14th Amendment to our U.S. Constitution.”
He goes on to explain this was meant to bar members of the Confederacy, which is definitely not what the 14th Amendment is about. It could have been written to only deal with the singular events of the American Civil War, but it wasn’t. The people who wrote that amendment were very aware that there might be other incidents in the future. This is why this is a constitutional amendment in the first place rather than just a law explicitly addressing former members of the Confederacy.
After a quick reference to “the unelected elite class in the back of palace halls,” Ramaswamy carries on by saying, “I will withdraw […] from the Colorado GOP primary ballot unless and until Trump’s name is restored. And I demand that Ron DeSantis, and Chris Christie, and Nikki Haley do the same thing, or else these Republicans are simply complicit in this unconstitutional attack on the way we conduct our constitutional republic.” Maybe the most impressive thing about Ramaswamy’s self-aggrandizing statement is that despite rambling on about the will of the voters and we the people, he manages to avoid saying the word “democracy” at any point. But he gets in two repeats of his “demand” that DeSantis, Haley, and Christie sign on to his pledge while peppering them with insults.
Ramaswamy’s departure from the ballot would give the other candidates a whopping 2% to divide among themselves. So far Haley, Christie, and DeSantis have not agreed to follow him out the door.
But none of that may matter since the chair of the Colorado Republican Party, Dave Williams, is threatening to pull the plug on the whole primary. According to Williams, the Colorado GOP will move to a “strict caucus process” so Republicans in that state can still pick the guy who led an insurrection. Whether that happens or not is likely to be determined by just how quickly the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the case and gives its opinion on the ruling of the Colorado court.
Colorado Republicans have already stated that they will appeal the case, and the nation’s highest court will likely snap it up quickly. Because every now and then the Supreme Court feels a need to step in to tell states how to run elections. Say … every 23 years.
The Colorado Republican Party also showed itself to be true followers of Trump in the most important way: by immediately turning this into a fundraising opportunity.
Not to be left out, the Texas Republican Party—where no such ruling has taken place—decided it had to get in on the act. And they’re doing it in an even more Trump-appropriate manner: by threatening retribution.
As The Daily Beast reports, Dan Patrick, the Republican lieutenant governor of Texas, threatened to remove President Joe Biden from the Texas primary ballot because … because … Hell. Do they need a reason? “Seeing what happened in Colorado makes me think—except we believe in democracy in Texas—maybe we should take Joe Biden off the ballot in Texas for allowing eight million people to cross the border since he’s been president disrupting our state,” Patrick said.
It will be a miracle if Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton doesn’t file such a suit before the week is out. Considering that Abraham Lincoln’s name was not permitted on the ballot in 10 Southern states, this wouldn’t exactly be precedent.
Colorado is just one of 16 states where Trump’s presence on the ballot is being challenged based on a 14th Amendment provision that prevents anyone from holding office if they have “previously taken an oath as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States” and then become involved in an insurrection.
A lower court ruling in Michigan that allowed Trump to remain on the ballot was appealed to the state supreme court earlier this week. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Trump could remain on the ballot there.
Every political junkie consumes polls, but how much do you know about focus groups? We wanted to learn more—much more—about this critical campaign tool, so we invited Margie Omero of GBAO Strategies to join us on this week’s episode of The Downballot. Omero gets into the nitty-gritty to tell us how focus groups are actually convened, the best ways to moderate them, and what participants have been saying about abortion ever since the Dobbs decision. Those views were key to understanding why last year’s red wave narrative was flawed and shed light on what we can expect in 2024.
Author: Mark Sumner