A group of Colorado voters presented their arguments to the Supreme Court on Friday for why former President Donald J. Trump should be excluded from the state’s primary ballot, saying his actions leading up to the attack on 6 January 2021 against the Capitol amounts to an insurrection.
In a court filing containing photographs of rioters attacking the Capitol and tweets from Mr. Trump, voters argued forcefully that Mr. Trump had plotted a brazen attack on democracy, betraying his oath of office.
“As President, Trump swore an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution,” the electors’ brief states. It adds: “Instead of peacefully ceding power, Trump intentionally organized and incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol in a desperate effort to stop the electoral votes cast against him from being counted. »
Mr. Trump’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to intervene after Colorado’s highest court declared him ineligible because it found he had engaged in insurrection in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results that led to the Capitol riot.
The justices are scheduled to hear the case Trump v. Anderson, No. 23-719, on Feb. 8, less than a month before Super Tuesday, when many states, including Colorado, hold their primaries.
The central issue in this case is the meaning of a clause in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that was added in the wake of the Civil War. This text prohibits from holding office those “who, having previously taken the oath, as a member of Congress, or as an official of the United States, or as a member of the legislature of a State, or as an executive or judicial officer of a state. , in support of the Constitution of the United States,” has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against it, or given aid or comfort to its enemies.”
This ban can be lifted by a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress.
In their brief, Colorado voters argued that Mr. Trump, in his complaint, did not fully address the central question of the case: whether he had engaged in an insurrection.
In his brief, Mr. Trump focused on the question of whether Section 3 applied to him, arguing that it did not because the section did not explicitly include the president among the responsible. “The President is not an ‘officer of the United States’ as that term is used in the Constitution,” Mr. Trump’s brief states.
Lawyers for Colorado voters objected to that interpretation.
“Section 3 does not give carte blanche to insurrectionist presidents,” their brief states. “They are “officers” because they hold a “function”. »
They added: “It would defy common sense to hold that Section 3 disqualifies any insurrectionist officer who violates his oath (up to the postmaster or county sheriff), except the most powerful – a former commander chief. »
The brief focused largely on the history of the amendment, describing how sparingly it had been used for more than a century “because insurrection against the Constitution has been fortunately rare.”
They argued that Mr. Trump’s actions in the run-up to the Capitol attack amounted to an insurrection.
“Trump refused to accept defeat,” the statement said. “Instead, Trump summoned and incited an angry mob to attack the Capitol and disrupt the certification of his election defeat. »
After weeks of tweets from Mr. Trump, the newspaper added: “On January 6, Trump lit the fuse.”
“Knowing the risk of violence and that the crowd was angry and armed,” the brief continues, “Trump incited violence both explicitly and implicitly during his speech at the Ellipse.”
The file contained photographs of the January 6 attack. One showed the exterior of the building in chaos as rioters rushed inside. Blue “Trump 2020” banners were visible.
Another photo showed a man in a police uniform grimacing in pain as he was trapped in a door frame. The accompanying description read: “The mob brutally and repeatedly crushed another witness, Officer Daniel Hodges, in a metal door frame as he attempted to force an entrance to the Capitol. »
The filing also included images of Mr. Trump’s tweets after his election defeat and in the weeks leading up to January 6, including a December 19 message in which Mr. Trump wrote: “Big protest in Washington on January 6th. Be there, it will be wild!
The lawyers overlaid a timeline of Mr. Trump’s tweets with photos of the rioters storming the Capitol, and wrote that he “celebrated violence.”
A response from Mr. Trump, if he files one, is expected on February 5.