Trump could be kicked off the ballot in days and still become president

Donald Trump is set to face his latest legal battle, as the civil trial into whether the former president can be on Colorado’s ballot in the 2024 election is set to begin Monday.

Trump is facing a lawsuit from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) challenging his candidacy in the Centennial State over his alleged involvement in the January 6, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol building. A group of his supporters violently protested the 2020 election results in a failed effort to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden‘s Electoral College victory.

Critics argue that Trump, by allegedly motivating Jan. 6 rioters with his election-fraud claims, violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This bars any individual from holding federal or state office who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” Trump, however, has repeatedly said that he did no wrongdoing related to Jan. 6, pleading not guilty in federal and Georgia criminal cases surrounding alleged election-interference attempts. The former president has added that the “witch hunt” is politically motivated.

Trump is facing several legal challenges to his 2024 candidacy over the 14th Amendment, including in Colorado. However, being removed from Colorado’s ballot won’t necessarily stop Trump from returning to the White House, and he remains the frontrunner in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

Colorado is an increasingly Democratic state that gave President Joe Biden a double-digit victory in the 2020 election. It means Trump is unlikely to win the state, regardless of whether he is disqualified from the ballot.

Donald Trump speaks in the Orpheum Theater on October 29, 2023 in Sioux City, Iowa. The trial challenging Trump’s 2024 candidacy in Colorado is set to begin on Monday, but the former president still has a path to the White House, even if he is removed from the state’s ballot.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Political experts viewed Colorado as among the country’s most-competitive battleground states throughout the 2000s and 2010s, as it was the “tipping point state” in both the 2008 and 2012 elections. Both Democrats and Republicans managed to win statewide during the Obama era, though no Republican has won it on a presidential level since 2004.

But Biden won Colorado by nearly 14 percentage points, and Democrats swept statewide races in 2022, defying expectations of a “red wave” that would bring Republicans to victory and hampering hopes of a GOP comeback. The Cook Political Report lists the state as “Safe Democrat” in 2024, and every statewide poll shows Biden leading.

Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard University, told Newsweek Monday morning that he believes the Colorado plaintiffs have “a very strong case” and “clearly have ‘standing'” under Colorado law.

“When Trump publicly and obviously took the law into his own hands in an attempt to overturn the basic structure of four-year presidential terms that is at the core of our Constitution, he did exactly what the Disqualification Clause means by engaging in ‘insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution of the United States,’ which is the very definition of disqualifying conduct under that Clause,” Tribe wrote in a statement.

However, Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, told Newsweek that he does not believe the 14th Amendment theory “can be ultimately sustained on appeal.” He added that he does not believe Jan. 6 constituted an insurrection or rebellion.

“Advocates have claimed that they can bar as many as 120 Republicans from Congress for opposing certification. This ignores that fact the fact that Democrats previously opposed Trump’s certification without a scintilla of legal or factual support. It would invite tit-for-tat actions in red and blue states,” Turley wrote.

A CREW spokesperson declined to comment due to the trial beginning Monday. Newsweek also reached out to the Trump campaign for comment via email.

In a September 6 press release, CREW President Noah Bookbinder said, “While it is unprecedented to bring this type of case against a former president, January 6th was an unprecedented attack that is exactly the kind of event the framers of the 14th Amendment wanted to build protections in case of. You don’t break the glass unless there’s an emergency.”