A Washington D.C.-based watchdog group has filed a lawsuit aiming to block former President Trump from the 2024 ballot in Colorado, arguing he is disqualified under the 14th Amendment for his alleged actions related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the Capitol.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated voters in Colorado that include former federal, state and local officials. The group alleged that Trump violated the oath of office by “recruiting, inciting and encouraging a violent mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a futile attempt to remain in office.”
“If the very fabric of our democracy is to hold, we must ensure that the Constitution is enforced and the same people who attacked our democratic system not be put in charge of it,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.
“We aren’t bringing this case to make a point, we’re bringing it because it is necessary to defend our republic both today and in the future,” he continued. “While it is unprecedented to bring this type of case against a former president, January 6th was an unprecedented attack that is exactly the kind of event the framers of the 14th Amendment wanted to build protections in case of. You don’t break the glass unless there’s an emergency.”
This move is one of the first serious legal challenges to keep Trump off the ballot under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause.
A growing number of legal scholars, Democrats and GOP presidential hopefuls have also floated the argument that Trump may be disqualified from serving as president due to actions he allegedly took to remain in power after leaving the White House. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that anyone who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” should be disqualified from holding office.
The group noted that the clause has not been used that frequently since the Civil War due to the lack of insurrections, but referred to a New Mexico case last year where the group sued to keep Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin from office.
The group wrote that the judge in that case declared the Jan. 6 riot an insurrection as defined by the Constitution, and that “someone who helped to incite it — even if not personally — had engaged in insurrection and was disqualified from office.”
“While the stakes surrounding Donald Trump’s disqualification in Colorado are greater than in the Griffin case, the law and many underlying facts are the same,” CREW wrote. “Based on its laws, the calendar, and our courageous set of plaintiffs and witnesses, Colorado is a good venue to bring this first case, but it will not be the last.”
Activist groups are also pushing to disqualify Trump from the ballot in key states under the same amendment. Trump has dismissed the arguments, saying those opinions have “no legal basis or standing relative” to the 2024 election.