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‘Oath-breaking insurrectionist’ Trump ineligible for office, Colo. voters tell Supreme Court

‘Oath-breaking insurrectionist’ Trump ineligible for office, Colo. voters tell Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — Colorado voters who say former President Donald Trump should be barred from holding federal office because of his role in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol urged the Supreme Court on Friday to kick him off their state’s Republican primary ballot.

Trump “intentionally organized and incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol in a desperate attempt to prevent the counting of electoral votes cast against him,” lawyers for the voters said in a new brief.

“By spearheading this attack, Trump engaged in insurrection against the Constitution,” the lawyers wrote.

The case addresses whether Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars those who have “engaged in insurrection” from holding federal office, applies to Trump.

The court is hearing oral arguments on Feb. 8.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled against Trump in a Dec. 19 decision that Trump immediately appealed. The ruling is on hold while the Supreme Court hears the case, meaning Trump remains on the ballot ahead of the March 5 Republican primary.

The case raises various undecided legal questions, including whether the constitutional language applies to those running for president and who gets to decide whether someone engaged in insurrection.

In Trump’s own brief on Jan. 18, his lawyers outlined several grounds on which they believe the Colorado court ruling was wrong, saying a ruling against the former president would “unleash chaos and bedlam.”

Among other things, they cite language in the constitutional provision at issue that says it only applies to someone seeking to serve as an “officer of the United States.” They argue that the president is not an officer of the United States.

They also argue that that Trump did not “engage in insurrection” and that only Congress can enforce the provision in question.

“The court should put a swift and decisive end to these ballot-disqualification efforts, which threaten to disenfranchise tens of millions of Americans,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

In Friday’s brief, the challengers said that Trump’s legal position is “less legal than it is political.” Seizing on the “bedlam” remark, the lawyers said Jan. 6 was already evidence of what Trump is capable of doing.

“Section 3 is designed precisely to avoid giving oath-breaking insurrectionists like Trump the power to unleash such mayhem again,” the lawyers wrote.

The legal challenge was filed on behalf of six Colorado voters, four of whom are Republicans, by the left-leaning government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and two law firms.

The case will be closely watched, not least because other states could follow suit if Trump is kicked off the ballot in Colorado.

Lawrence Hurley

Lawrence Hurley covers the Supreme Court for NBC News.

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