A watchdog group has filed a lawsuit in Colorado arguing that former President Donald Trump should not appear on the state’s ballot because of his 14th Amendment violations.
The group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in a state district court on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters who say Trump’s actions after he lost the 2020 presidential election are in clear violation of section three of the amendment, which says a person cannot hold state or federal office if they took an oath to support the U.S. Constitution and then violated it by inciting insurrection or rebellion.
“Donald Trump has failed this test,” the lawsuit states. “Four years after taking an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution as President of the United States … Trump tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 election, leading to a violent insurrection at the United States Capitol to stop the lawful transfer of power to his successor.”
The lawsuit rehashes several of Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol to stop the certification of the election in favor of President Joe Biden.
The people that Trump “mobilized for January 6th were violent extremists and now convicted seditionists whom he earlier instructed to ‘stand back and stand by,‘” the lawsuit said. Many of those who stormed the Capitol were people whom “Trump had inflamed for months with the lie that the 2020 election would be ‘rigged’ and was being ‘stolen’ from them,” the filing states, and Trump encouraged them to march to the Capitol at a rally shortly before the attack.
“President Trump was the mob’s leader, and the mob was his weapon,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit comes as Trump faces four criminal trials, with two of them focused on his election subversion efforts: A federal case about his actions around the Jan. 6 attack and state charges in Georgia centered around his attempts to overturn the state’s election results in his favor.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) expressed skepticism on the practicality of the 14th Amendment barring Trump from running ― an idea that some Democrats and legal experts have floated as the 2024 election nears.
“It seems like an invitation to chaos to me,” Cornyn told HuffPost on Tuesday. “If a state refused to put him on the ballot, right in the middle of the election season? It’d be chaos.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told HuffPost he needs “to do a little bit more homework” on the matter, but said he wonders if the effort is “operative” if Trump isn’t convicted on charges in those two cases.
The lawsuit in Colorado acknowledges that concern but notes that disqualification under the 14th Amendment “does not require a criminal conviction or impeachment for any offense.”
Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung slammed the lawsuit in a statement to ABC News.
“The people who are pursuing this absurd conspiracy theory and political attack on President Trump are stretching the law beyond recognition,” Cheung said, adding, “There is no legal basis for this effort except in the minds of those who are pushing it.”
Trump more broadly attacked the idea of using the 14th Amendment to disqualify him, writing on his social media site Truth Social that “it is just another ‘trick’ being used by the Radical Left Communists, Marxists, and Fascists, to again steal an Election.”
Any effort to use the amendment against Trump faces an uphill battle. Trump is likely to appeal any decision in favor of blocking him from the ballot, and the final say could rest with a U.S. Supreme Court dominated by conservatives and three justices nominated by Trump.
Igor Bobic contributed reporting.