Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold on Friday issued a press release in response to the ruling by a Denver District Court judge that former President Donald Trump is eligible for the Presidential Primary Ballot in Colorado despite a challenge under the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the watchdog group that filed the suit against Griswold on behalf of six Republican and Independent voters, also issued a press release (see below) lauding the judge’s finding that Trump did engage in an insurrection.
First, here’s Griswold’s release:
Today, Denver District Court Judge Sarah Wallace ruled that Donald J. Trump is eligible to be placed on the March 5 Presidential Primary Ballot in Colorado.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, in her role as chief elections official in the State of Colorado, issued the below statement regarding the ruling:
Statement attributed to Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold
“The Court determined that Donald Trump is eligible to be placed on the Colorado ballot in the March Presidential Primary. This decision may be appealed. As Secretary of State, I will always ensure that every voter can make their voice heard in free and fair elections.”
Secretary Griswold was sued by six Republican and Unaffiliated Colorado voters on September 6, 2023. The lawsuit argued the Secretary must disqualify former president Donald J. Trump from the Colorado ballot based on the language of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Colorado Law Pertaining to Eligibility for Office
Colorado law is unclear on how to consider the requirements of the United States Constitution in determining whether a candidate is eligible for office, including the language of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Colorado Revised Statutes 1-4-501(1), “Only eligible electors eligible for office,” reads:
(1) No person except an eligible elector who is at least eighteen years of age, unless another age is required by law, is eligible to hold any office in this state. No person is eligible to be a designee or candidate for office unless that person fully meets the qualifications of that office as stated in the constitution and statutes of this state on or before the date the term of that office begins. The designated election official shall not certify the name of any designee or candidate who fails to swear or affirm under oath that he or she will fully meet the qualifications of the office if elected; or who is unable to provide proof that he or she meets any requirements of the office relating to registration, residence, or property ownership; or who the designated election official determines is not qualified to hold the office that he or she seeks based on residency requirements. The information found on the person’s voter registration record is admissible as prima facie evidence of compliance with this section.
The full statute citation can be found at C.R.S. 1-4-501 (HTML).
Presidential Primary Ballot Certification Requirements in Colorado
For declared candidates from a major party to qualify for and be placed on the presidential primary ballot in Colorado, they must be eligible for nomination and complete additional steps.
More information about the path to Presidential Primary Certification can be found at https://www.coloradosos.gov/pubs/elections/Candidates/PrimaryPresidentPetition.html (HTML). The Federal Election Commission may have additional requirements that are not addressed at the state level.
At the time of this publication, no candidates have qualified for the presidential primary ballot in Colorado. Information about candidates’ statuses for the Colorado ballot will be available at GoVoteColorado.gov (HTML) after candidates begin filing presidential primary paperwork with the Colorado Department of State.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such a disability.”
The full text of the 14th amendment can be found at archives.gov (HTML).
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the watchdog group that filed the suit against Griswold on behalf of six Republican and Independent voters, issued this press release on Friday:
A Colorado district judge ruled that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection on January 6th, however did not remove him from the ballot under the 14th Amendment, in a case brought on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the firms Tierney Lawrence Stiles LLC, KBN Law, LLC and Olson Grimsley Kawanabe Hinchcliff & Murray LLC. This is the first time a presidential candidate has been found to have engaged in insurrection, and it was found after a thorough evidentiary hearing.
“The court’s decision affirms what our clients alleged in this lawsuit: that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection based on his role in January 6th,” said CREW President Noah Bookbinder. “We are proud to have brought this historic case and know we are right on the facts and right on the law. When we filed this case, we knew it likely would not end at the district court level. We will be filing an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court shortly. Today was not the end of this effort, but another step along the way.”
The court found that, “Petitioners have established that Trump engaged in an insurrection on January 6, 2021 through incitement, and that the First Amendment does not protect Trump’s speech.” Donald Trump has now officially participated in an insurrection against the Constitution.