INDIANAPOLIS – After state high courts rejected 14th Amendment arguments in Michigan and Minnesota, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a thunderclap ruling on Tuesday, ruling to keep Republican presidential frontrunner Donald J. Trump off the state’s primary ballot.
The ruling brought a stern response from U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, whose gubernatorial campaign was endorsed by the former president. “With the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision, the self-anointed ‘defenders of democracy’ have removed their political enemy from the ballot, stripping Colorado voters of their right to vote for the candidate of their choice and joining radical AGs and Biden DOJ in interfering in the 2024 election,” the Braun campaign said in a statement Wednesday.
The campaign added, “Mike Braun was the first candidate to endorse Donald Trump; now it’s time to find out where the other candidates are.”
In a stunning 4-3 decision, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Trump had engaged in what amounted to insurrection following the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021. It said that Trump’s activity bars him from holding a future office under the 14th Amendment.
Said the majority, “President Trump did not merely incite the insurrection. Even when the siege on the Capitol was fully underway, he continued to support it. These actions constituted overt, voluntary, and direct participation in the insurrection. We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.”
The 14th Amendment was ratified after the Civil War as a way of keeping former Confederates from holding federal office. The 14th Amendment says officials who take an oath to support the U.S. Constitution are banned from future office if they “engaged in insurrection.” But the amendment’s wording is vague, doesn’t explicitly mention the presidency and has only been applied twice since 1919 at the congressional level. It has not been tested in the context of an evolving presidential campaign.
Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement, “We have full confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly rule in our favor and finally put an end to these unAmerican lawsuits.”
American and Indiana courts routinely rule on the validity of candidacies and whether people can remain on the ballot for a variety of reasons. A Marion County judge ruled earlier this month that an Indiana law keeping Republican Senate candidate John Rust off the primary ballot was invalid. According to the NWI Times’ Dan Carden, the Indiana Supreme Court will decide next year whether the state’s recently heightened requirements for candidates to identify with a political party pass constitutional muster.
In a 2019 Lake County case, Joseph Hero declared his candidacy for an at‐large seat on the St. John Town Council. The Indiana Lawyer reported the Lake County Republican Party chairman and a member of the Lake County Council challenged Hero’s candidacy. The GOP had sent him a letter declaring he was barred from seeking elected office in Indiana as a Republican for 10 years.
The Colorado Supreme Court decision is the second case involving Donald Trump that could be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the next month or so.
Special counsel Jack Smith on Dec. 11 asked the Supreme Court to take up and rule quickly on whether Trump can be prosecuted on charges he plotted to overturn the 2020 election results. “This case presents a fundamental question at the heart of our democracy: Whether a former President is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office or is constitutionally protected from federal prosecution when he has been impeached but not convicted before the criminal proceedings begin,” prosecutors wrote.
Smith asked the Supreme Court to rule with “unusual speed.” According to the Associated Press, the justices indicated they would decide quickly whether to hear the case, ordering Trump’s lawyers to respond by Wednesday. The court’s brief order did not signal what it ultimately would do.
Trump’s Republican presidential primary opponents all assailed the Colorado ruling:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: “The Left invokes ‘democracy’ to justify its use of power, even if it means abusing judicial power to remove a candidate from the ballot based on spurious legal grounds. SCOTUS should reverse.”
Nikkie Haley: “I will tell you that I don’t think Donald Trump needs to be president. But I will beat him fair and square. We don’t need to have judges making these decisions, we need voters to make these decisions.”
Chris Christie: “I do not believe Donald Trump should be prevented from being President of the United States, by any court. I think he should be prevented from being the President of the United States by the voters of this country.”
Vivek Ramaswamy: “I pledge to *withdraw* from the Colorado GOP primary unless Trump is also allowed to be on the state’s ballot, and I demand that Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, and Nikki Haley to do the same immediately – or else they are tacitly endorsing this illegal maneuver which will have disastrous consequences for our country.”
U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson added, “Regardless of political affiliation, every citizen registered to vote should not be denied the right to support our former president and the individual who is the leader in every poll of the Republican primary.”
Braun spokesman Jahan Wilcox added, “It’s important for all gubernatorial candidates to take their position on this. Finally, voters deserve to know if a gubernatorial candidate supports Donald Trump or Joe Biden. This is very important given that the last candidate to enter the race has donated to Barack Obama, Joe Donnelly, Evan Bayh, Andre Carson, and a dozen Democratic State Parties. These donations could indicate a leaning towards Democratic policies and values.”
That was in reference to Republican Brad Chambers, who according to FEC filings has donated to several Democratic senatorial and presidential campaigns.
Crouch appoints Mayor Bennett
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch announced on Monday that Terre Haute Mayor Duke A. Bennett will become the new Executive Director of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).
Bennett will begin his new role at OCRA in Indianapolis on Jan. 8, 2024. “The next chapter in Indiana’s history is quality of life, in large and small communities around the state, and Mayor Bennett understands this,” said Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “As communities and cities strive to build economically thriving places where people want to live, work and grow, Mayor Bennett will spread the collaborative spirit he cultivated in Vigo County around the state. Indiana will be in good hands with Mayor Bennett leading the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs into the future.” Bennett is finishing his last term as that city’s mayor after being defeated in November by Democrat Brandon Sakbun. He was first elected mayor in 2007, and his four terms ties him for the second-longest serving mayor in Terre Haute history. In addition to being mayor, Bennett has also served as a Special Deputy Sheriff with the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department for more than 20 years.
Sen. Holdman endorses Doden
Republican State Sen. Travis Holdman announced he is endorsing Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden. “I have been friends with Eric Doden for many years and worked with him on several issues during my tenure as State Senator, and I am proud to endorse him to become the next Governor of the great state of Indiana,” Holdman said in a statement. “Eric has a proven track record of work as a businessman and in his various capacities including serving as President of the Indiana Economic Development Commission. His bold plans to address issues around the state including protecting the vulnerable, supporting our teachers and law enforcement, and invigorating our small towns and rural communities are just what we need to keep Indiana moving forward.”
Doden would reimplement Regional Cities initiative
Doden told Fox59 that he wants to reimplement Gov. Mike Pence’s Regional Cities initiative if he’s elected governor. The Doden campaign expects that the reimplementation of this program will lead to at least $8 billion worth of quality projects throughout the state in four years.
1st CD: Niemeyer stands with steelworkers
Republican Randy Niemeyer expressed his unwavering support for the concerns raised by the United Steelworkers Union regarding the recent deal between U.S. Steel and Nippon. “I am deeply concerned by the news that U.S. Steel would be acquired by Nippon Steel, a foreign steel competitor,” Niemeyer said in a statement. “It is troubling to learn that this historic company will no longer be American-owned and operated. U.S. Steelmakers have struggled to compete against subsidized metals made by foreign competitors as it is, and this acquisition further consolidates the industry and puts the livelihoods of hardworking families in question. In Congress, I’ll stand up for labor and work with stakeholders toward solutions that prioritize the well-being of the workers, their families, and the economic vitality of Northwest Indiana. I stand in solidarity with the United Steelworkers Union whose members were unjustifiably excluded from this process. The voices of every hardworking man and woman deserve to be heard and considered in any decisions that impact their livelihoods.”
4th CD: Bookwalter on Baird billboards
Republican candidate Charles Bookwalter criticized billboards by U.S. Rep. Jim Baird. “If you haven’t seen it yet online, here’s my latest video on the taxpayer-funded billboard that Rep. Jim Baird put up outside the Jimmy John’s franchise that I own in Frankfort. These billboards are $2,000-$5,000 a month to lease and Baird has five of them up right now. If these are for three-month leases, he’s spending at least $30,000 of taxpayer money on these to campaign!”
HD68: Rep. Lyness won’t seek reelection
Republican Rep. Randy Lyness has decided to not seek reelection next year and will retire from the Legislature after completing his term (Davies, State Affairs). Lyness, R-West Harrison, becomes fifth House Republican not seeking reelection.