More than two dozen states have filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, urging the nation’s highest court to keep former President Trump on the Colorado Republican presidential ballot and warning that failing to do so could throw the 2024 presidential election “into chaos.”
The attorneys general of Indiana, West Virginia and 25 other states, warn the court that the move by the Colorado Supreme Court to declare Trump an “insurrectionist” under the Fourteenth Amendment “has vast consequences that reach far beyond Colorado.”
The nation’s highest court will hear arguments on February 8 and set a January 18 deadline for similar briefs. The justices issued an administrative stay that orders the Colorado Secretary of State to put the former president’s name on the GOP primary ballot, at least until the case is decided.
The state court ruled that Trump had engaged in an insurrection for his role in January 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol. The Fourteenth Amendment, adopted in 1868 after the Civil War, bars people who “engaged in insurrection” from holding public office.
The states argue that state-imposed restrictions have a national consequence in this instance and the ruling “threatens to throw the 2024 election into chaos.”
“Voters who may wish to cast their ballots for former President Trump cannot know whether he ultimately will be excluded from the ballot in their State or others. They may wonder whether a little non-mutual offensive collateral estoppel is all it takes for former President Trump to be excluded from ballots across the Nation,” they say.
They also argue that the court’s decision on what constitutes an insurrection is “standardless and vague” and denied the former president an opportunity for due process, including calling witnesses and the discovery process.
“The Colorado Supreme Court has cast itself into a ‘political thicket,’ . . . and it is now up to this Court to pull it out,” they say.
The states warn that if the Colorado decision is allowed to stand, the confidence in the integrity of the electoral process will be harmed.
“Many Americans will become convinced that a few partisan actors have contrived to take a political decision out of ordinary voters’ hands,” they warn.
The brief also argues for immediate action as the court “should not let the uncertainy persist” and warns that additional confusion could build if more states remove Trump from the ballot as the primaries and caucuses near.
“Any damage may already have been done by the time another case raising similar issues makes its way back to this Court. And the longer litigation over a national candidate’s eligibility persists, the more uncertainty and confusion will spread. Voters need an answer in time to judiciously weigh the merits of competing candidates before casting their ballots, not after voting has begun,” the states say.
The brief also argues that, if allowed to stand, other potential disqualifications could arise in the future, asking whether a president could be stopped from running for re-election due to a wartime mistake construed as giving “aid or comfort” to enemies.
“The Court should act now to stop all these ‘strange, far-reaching, and injurious results’ from spinning out of control,” the states say.
Finally, the brief argues that the decision for who is qualified to serve as president is up to the voters, not to the courts.
“If the voters find former President Trump qualified, and Congress concurs, then the Constitution does not contemplate a time for the judiciary to second-guess that call. Rather, the Constitution gives Congress the sole and final authority to determine whether the President can continue to serve, as many courts have said.”
Fox News’ Sarah Rumpf-Whitten, Bill Mears and Shannon Bream contributed to this report.