Former President Trump told the Supreme Court on Thursday that the decision kicking him off Colorado’s ballot was based on a “dubious interpretation” of the 14th Amendment, urging the justices to reverse the ruling and terminate the dozens of challenges proceeding across the country.
“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 lawyers wrote to the justices.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Feb. 8 in the extraordinary case, which could dictate Trump’s political future in Colorado and his ability to remain on the ballot in states nationwide.
Anti-Trump groups and voters across the country have filed lawsuits seeking Trump’s disqualification under the 14th Amendment, citing the former president’s actions surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
The Amendment prohibits someone from holding “any office … under the United States” if they “engaged in insurrection” after taking an oath to support the Constitution.
Trump filed his written brief in the case on Thursday, telling the justices he did not do anything that “remotely qualifies” as engaging in insurrection and that the ballot challenges should fail because of several other threshold issues.
“The fact remains President Trump did not commit or participate in the unlawful acts that occurred at the Capitol, and this Court cannot tolerate a regime that allows a candidate’s eligibility for office to hinge on a trial court’s assessment of dubious expert-witness testimony or claims that President Trump has powers of telepathy,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
But as they have long argued, Trump said the justices need not reach the contentious issue of whether Trump engaged in insurrection.
Trump urged the high court, which includes three justices he appointed, to instead rule that the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban does not apply to the presidency.
The former president also contended that the clause cannot be enforced without further legislation from Congress, among other arguments, all off-ramps that would keep Trump on the ballot without evaluating his actions surrounding Jan. 6.
Trump’s positions on those various threshold issues are backed by some legal scholars and nearly 200 Republican members of Congress, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (La.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who filed a friend-of-the-court brief earlier in the day supporting Trump.
Various Republican state attorneys general, the Republican National Committee and former officials like Trump-era Attorney General Bill Barr also filed briefs supporting the former president.
“The text of section 3 does not confer enforcement authority on state courts or state officials, and it does not specify a process for determining whether an individual has ‘engaged in insurrection’ and disqualified himself from holding an enumerated office,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. “Instead, the Fourteenth Amendment empowers Congress to ‘enforce’ section 3 with ‘appropriate legislation.’”
The plaintiffs who originally challenged Trump’s ballot eligibility and other respondents in the case are due to file their briefs at the Supreme Court by Jan. 31, which is also likely to be accompanied by a large number of briefs from outside supporters.
Updated at on Jan. 19 at 8:24 a.m.