By John Kruzel and Andrew Chung
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Colorado voters seeking to bar Donald Trump from their state’s ballot urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to decide whether his role leading up to the Capitol attack disqualifies him from again holding the presidency, as a lower court found.
The court filing, submitted by Republican and unaffiliated voters in Colorado, came the day after Trump asked the justices to reverse a politically explosive Dec. 19 ruling by Colorado’s top court that Trump’s role ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol disqualified him from the Republican primary ballot there.
The Colorado court’s historic decision marked the first time in history that Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment – the so-called disqualification clause – had been used to deem a presidential candidate ineligible for the White House.
The Jan. 6 attack was an attempt by Trump’s supporters to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democratic President Joe Biden, which Trump falsely claims was the result of fraud.
The Colorado court’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the group of Colorado voters and backed by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, which filed the response brief on Thursday.
The plaintiffs told the justices that Trump’s intentional “mobilizing, inciting, and encouraging” of an armed mob to attack the Capitol meets the legal definition in Section 3.
“This attack was an ‘insurrection’ against the Constitution by any standard,” they said in the filing.
The Colorado high court had already put its decision on hold, stating that Trump would remain on the ballot while appeals proceed.
That decision has prompted separate U.S. Supreme Court appeals by Colorado Republicans and Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination.
In Trump’s filing on Wednesday, his lawyers asked the justices to “summarily reverse” the Colorado Supreme Court because the question of presidential eligibility is reserved for Congress.
Trump’s legal team said the state court’s decision marks “the first time in the history of the United States that the judiciary has prevented voters from casting ballots for the leading major-party presidential candidate,” adding that the ruling “is not and cannot be correct.”
The politically combustible case now comes before the nation’s highest judicial body, whose 6-3 conservative majority includes three of his own appointees. The justices’ action will shape a wider effort to disqualify Trump from other state ballots as the 2024 election draws closer.
CREW in a statement on Thursday urged the justices to take up the case quickly “to ensure that Colorado Republican primary voters like our client — and all Americans — have confidence in the eligibility of the people on their ballots.”
Trump has also appealed to a Maine state 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.
(Reporting by John Kruzel; Editing by Scott Malone and Daniel Wallis)