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Trump 14th Amendment: Here’s Where Lawsuits Challenging Ex-President’s Candidacy Stand After He Wins In Colorado — Again

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A state judge in Colorado on Friday became the latest to uphold former President Donald Trump’s 2024 candidacy in a lawsuit arguing the ex-president should be disqualified from the ballot under the 14th Amendment — which bars “insurrectionists” from holding office — as challengers across the country have brought cases against Trump based on his role in the January 6 riot.

Key Facts

Colorado: Judge Sarah Wallace ruled Friday that Trump can stay on the Colorado ballot, finding that while she believes Trump “engaged in insurrection,” she doesn’t believe the section of the 14th Amendment Trump was sued under — which bars people from holding office if they’ve engaged in an insurrection while serving as an “officer of the United States” — includes presidents.

Florida: An Obama-appointed federal district judge in Florida was the first to reject a major 14th Amendment lawsuit, ruling in August that a lawyer and other voters who challenged Trump’s candidacy didn’t have standing to bring the litigation — but not making any decisions on the merits of whether Trump is eligible to run for office under the 14th Amendment.

Michigan: A state judge ruled in November that Trump can stay on Michigan’s ballot, ruling Trump followed state law in qualifying for the primary election and it should be up to Congress to decide whether Trump is eligible to regain the presidency.

Minnesota: The Minnesota Supreme Court threw out a case challenging Trump’s candidacy in November, ruling there’s no law barring Trump from serving on the primary ballot, but challengers could bring the case again if he makes it to the general election as expected.

Other states: Cases challenging Trump’s candidacy are still pending in Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The majority of those cases have been brought by John Anthony Castro, a tax consultant who’s also running for president as a Republican, though he has already voluntarily dismissed cases in Idaho, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Utah, and suffered a loss when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up his Florida challenge after a lower court ruled against him.

What To Watch For

Challengers in Michigan have already appealed their loss there to the Michigan Supreme Court, and ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which brought the Colorado case, is also expected to appeal to that state’s high court. Legal experts and state officials broadly expect the issue of Trump’s candidacy under the 14th Amendment to ultimately go to the U.S. Supreme Court — which can be asked to hear cases in state court after the state’s Supreme Court has ruled — though scholars cited by the Washington Post in October believe it’s likely justices would only take up a case if any state actually rules against Trump and kicks him off the ballot.

Chief Critic

Trump has strongly opposed the cases challenging his candidacy, which his spokesperson Steven Cheung described as “un-American” in a statement Friday responding to the Colorado ruling. “These cases represent the most cynical and blatant political attempts to interfere with the upcoming presidential election by desperate Democrats who know Crooked Joe Biden is a failed president on the fast track to defeat,” Cheung said.

Key Background

Section three of the 14th Amendment bars people from holding federal or state office if, after they’ve taken an oath of office, they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” Trump’s critics argue he should be punished under the 14th Amendment based on his conduct after the 2020 election, in which he sought to overturn the election and, critics argue, incited his supporters’ riot at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. The debate over whether Trump should be disqualified from the presidency under the 14th Amendment has gained steam in recent months as the election has neared and Trump faces criminal charges for his post-election activities. Legal scholars have weighed in on both sides of the issue, with even some conservative scholars arguing the case against Trump has merit. Conservative legal scholars William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulson argued in a law review article that the January 6 rebellion disqualifies Trump from serving, arguing the section is still in effect and is “ready for use,” and state officials can bar Trump from the ballot without any additional legislation or court rulings expressly permitting it. State officials have said they don’t believe they have the power to kick Trump off the ballots themselves, however, leaving the issue of Trump’s candidacy up to the courts.


The debate over Trump’s candidacy comes after the 14th Amendment was previously invoked during the 2022 midterms. Lawsuits were filed against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) over her role in the January 6 riot — which ultimately failed — and against former Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), whose case was mooted after he lost his primary race. Couy Griffin, a local commissioner in New Mexico, was removed from office and barred from being elected again, marking the first time the 14th Amendment had been used to remove someone since 1869.

Further Reading

Trump Can’t Be Disqualified From Colorado Ballot Under 14th Amendment, Judge Rules (Forbes)

Tracking Section 3 Trump Disqualification Challenges (Lawfare)

Trump Faces First Hearing Over Whether He Can Run For President Today—What To Watch For In 14th Amendment Case (Forbes)

Can Trump Be Disqualified From The Presidency? Why Even Conservative Legal Experts Are In Favor Of It (Forbes)

Minnesota Supreme Court Rejects 14th Amendment Argument That Would’ve Kicked Trump Off Ballot (Forbes)

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