Legal Battle Over Trump’s Disqualification from Colorado Ballot Continues

Colorado District Judge Rules Trump Engaged in Insurrection, but 14th Amendment Doesn’t Apply to Presidency

The legal dispute surrounding former President Donald Trump’s potential disqualification from the Colorado ballot persists, centering around Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This clause prohibits individuals who have taken an oath to the Constitution and subsequently engaged in insurrection or aided the Constitution’s enemies from holding future office. While a Colorado district judge recently ruled that Trump did incite the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the judge argued that the 14th Amendment’s little-known clause does not apply to the presidency. Both Trump and the plaintiffs in the case, supported by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, have now filed appeals. To shed light on this complex issue, we turn to Laurence Tribe, a constitutional scholar at Harvard Law School and an early proponent of the 14th Amendment theory.

The Unique Interpretation of the 14th Amendment in Relation to the Presidency

The recent ruling by the Colorado district judge has sparked confusion among the general public. While every other public official, including senators and congressmembers, is subject to the disqualification clause of the 14th Amendment, the judge concluded that the presidency does not fall under its purview. To clarify this distinction, Professor Tribe explains that the judge’s interpretation is based on the understanding that the president is not considered an “officer of the United States” in the same way as other elected officials. This unique interpretation stems from the historical context and intent behind the 14th Amendment, which primarily aimed to address the aftermath of the Civil War and protect the rights of newly emancipated slaves.

The Historical Context and Intent of the 14th Amendment

To fully comprehend the judge’s ruling, it is crucial to explore the historical backdrop and original intent of the 14th Amendment. Enacted in 1868, shortly after the Civil War, the amendment sought to secure equal protection under the law for all citizens and address the rights of former slaves. It was primarily designed to prevent former Confederate officials from holding public office. The disqualification clause in Section 3 was intended to bar those who had actively participated in the rebellion or aided the enemies of the Constitution from future positions of power. However, the specific language used in the amendment, referring to “officers of the United States,” has led to differing interpretations regarding the applicability to the presidency.

The Arguments for Applying the 14th Amendment to the Presidency

While the judge ruled that the 14th Amendment does not apply to the presidency, proponents of disqualification argue otherwise. They contend that the framers of the amendment intended for it to encompass all elected officials, including the president. They argue that the president, as the highest-ranking officer of the United States, should be held to the same standards as other public officials. Moreover, they assert that exempting the president from the disqualification clause undermines the amendment’s purpose of ensuring accountability and preventing individuals who have engaged in insurrection from holding future office.

The Implications of the Appeals and Potential Precedent

With both Trump and the plaintiffs appealing the district judge’s ruling, the legal battle over the application of the 14th Amendment to the presidency is far from over. The outcome of these appeals could have significant ramifications for future cases involving disqualification from public office. If the appeals court upholds the district judge’s decision, it could set a precedent that the disqualification clause does not extend to the presidency, potentially limiting the scope of the 14th Amendment’s applicability in similar cases. On the other hand, a reversal of the ruling could establish a new precedent, broadening the interpretation of the amendment and subjecting presidents to potential disqualification.


The ongoing legal dispute over whether former President Trump should be disqualified from the Colorado ballot highlights the complex and nuanced interpretation of the 14th Amendment. While the recent ruling determined that Trump did engage in insurrection, it concluded that the disqualification clause does not apply to the presidency. This distinction is rooted in the historical context and original intent of the amendment, which primarily aimed to address the aftermath of the Civil War and protect the rights of newly emancipated slaves. The appeals filed by both Trump and the plaintiffs will determine the future trajectory of this case and potentially set a precedent for the application of the 14th Amendment in similar situations. As the legal battle unfolds, the question of whether the presidency falls under the purview of the disqualification clause remains a subject of intense debate and scrutiny.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *