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Trump lawyers warn Supreme Court of ‘chaos and bedlam’ if states are allowed to bar him from 2024 ballot

Former President Donald Trump is urging the US Supreme Court to reverse the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling that removed him from that state’s ballot.

The brief submitted by Trump’s attorneys Thursday to the high court sets out their arguments for why the state court erred when it issued the unprecedented decision last month.

“The Court should reverse the Colorado decision because President Trump is not even subject to section 3, as the President is not an ‘officer of the United States’ under the Constitution. And even if President Trump were subject to section 3 he did not ‘engage in’ anything that qualifies as ‘insurrection,’” Trump’s attorneys argued.

The efforts, Trump team argues, “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.”

The Colorado Supreme Court last month said Trump is constitutionally ineligible to run in 2024 because the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists holding office covers his conduct on January 6, 2021.

The US Supreme Court agreed earlier this month to hear the case, accepting an appeal brought by Trump. The justices are separately involved in other matters that could impact the federal criminal case against the former president.

The Colorado ruling has been on pause pending the US Supreme Court’s resolution of the case, and the state’s top election official has certified the 2024 presidential primary ballots with Trump’s name on the Republican ballot. Should the justices conclude Trump is ineligible for public office before Colorado’s primary, then any votes cast for him wouldn’t count.

Oral arguments in the Colorado case are scheduled for February 8.

Republican allies suggest a ‘parade of horribles’ if Trump is removed

Also Thursday, House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and scores of other GOP lawmakers threw their support behind Trump at the Supreme Court.

In a friend-of-the-court brief, the Republicans argue that the Colorado Supreme Court “severely intrudes” on Congress’ power by allowing the Constitution’s “insurrectionist ban” to be enforced without authorization from Congress.

The Colorado ruling “will only supercharge state officials to conjure bases for labeling political opponents as having engaged in insurrection,” they added, arguing that the justices should overturn the decision “to minimize the partisan incentive to boot opponents off the ballot” under the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban.”

A group of GOP secretaries of state also urged the court to prevent fellow secretaries of state from disqualifying candidates.

“Any other result leads to a foreseeable and unfortunate parade of horribles,” they wrote.

“If Secretaries of State—partisan elected officials—alone may determine who meets the obtuse provisions of Section Three, there are few obvious safeguards preventing abuse. A disqualification decision would presumably be unreviewable and made without any of the constitutional protections of due process that our system takes for granted in much less significant moments. If disqualification from receiving a social security check merits some constitutional protection, perhaps disqualification for a ballot likewise does,” the brief added.

That brief was submitted by secretaries of state from Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.

So far, Trump has been removed from the ballot in Colorado and Maine, though both decisions were put on hold, pending a resolution from the US Supreme Court. A Maine judge on Wednesday sent that case back to the Maine Secretary of State and ordered her to wait for a final resolution of Colorado case.

Judges across the country are watching this case closely. The Oregon Supreme Court dismissed a similar case last week, telling the anti-Trump challengers that they might be able to refile it later, based on what the US Supreme Court does in the Colorado case.

CNN’s Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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