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Colo. judge rejects Trump’s bid to toss lawsuit aimed at keeping him off 2024 ballot

Colo. judge rejects Trump’s bid to toss lawsuit aimed at keeping him off 2024 ballot

A Colorado judge on Wednesday denied the latest attempt by former President Donald Trump to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to remove him from the state’s 2024 ballot because of his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

The decision comes just days before a trial on Trump’s eligibility for the ballot is expected to begin.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of six voters in Denver district court last month, says Trump should be disqualified from running in future elections under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which states no person shall hold any office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” after having taken an oath to support the Constitution. It argues that Trump violated his oath as president through his connection to the Capitol attack.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and several law firms filed the lawsuit on behalf of the six voters — four Republicans and two unaffiliated.

In a 24-page ruling, Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace pushed back on Trump’s argument that Congress, not courts, should handle questions related to his ballot eligibility. She also sided against Trump’s claim that state election officials lack the power to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Wallace noted that that clause “clearly gives Congress the ability to remove a constitutional disability should a person be disqualified” under the provision, but “it says nothing regarding what government body would adjudicate or determine such disability in the first instance.”

“The Court notes, however, it would be strange for Congress to be the only entity that is empowered to determine the disability and then also the entity that is empowered to remove it,” Wallace wrote.

Wallace also wrote that the court’s ruling “holds that states can, and have, applied Section 3 pursuant to state statutes without federal enforcement legislation.”

The court will convene Monday to consider whether “there is any evidence or argument at trial that provides the Court with additional guidance on whether the issue of presidential eligibility has been delegated to the United States Congress,” Wallace wrote.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in his attempts to overturn the 2020 election and his role in the Capitol attack. He previously brushed off the effort in Colorado to bar him from the ballot under the 14th Amendment, decrying it as “nonsense” and “election interference.”

Wallace’s ruling Wednesday comes after Chief U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer denied Trump’s request to move the Colorado ballot case to federal court.

In a four-page order, Brimmer sent the lawsuit back to the same state court in Denver County where it was filed on behalf of the group of voters.

Brimmer, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, said Trump had not properly served Colorado’s Democratic secretary of state, Jena Griswold, or gained her consent to move the case. For those reasons, he said, he found Trump’s effort to move the case “defective.”

Summer Concepcion

Summer Concepcion is a politics reporter for NBC News.

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