Former President Donald Trump’s latest attempt to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to keep him off Colorado’s 2024 Republican primary ballot was dismissed by a judge on Oct. 12.
In her 22-page opinion (pdf) published Thursday, Second Judicial District Judge Sarah Wallace denied President Trump’s attempts to dismiss the lawsuit, effectively paving the way for a trial on the matter to go ahead at the end of October.
The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by a liberal watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, on behalf of a group of Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in September, argue that President Trump is disqualified from serving as president under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars people who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or have “given aid or comfort to the enemies” of the Constitution while under the oath of office from holding office.
They cite President Trump’s alleged effort to challenge the results of the 2020 election and his role in the events of Jan. 6, 2021, as reasoning for his proposed disqualification and have thus asked the court to remove him from the Colorado Republican primary.
President Trump denies any wrongdoing regarding the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol or his alleged attempts to challenge the 2020 election results, although he has been indicted in Washington, D.C. for the latter.
Trump Claims Protections Under Anti-SLAPP Law
His lawyers have further argued that a Colorado law protecting individuals from being sued over exercising their free speech rights shields him from the lawsuit; pointing specifically to the state’s anti-SLAPP law, which protects individuals from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.
The measure, enacted in 2019, safeguards the “constitutional rights of persons to petition, speak freely, associate freely, and otherwise participate in government to the maximum extent permitted by law” and protects them from lawsuits that harass them for First Amendment-protected speech.
President Trump additionally contends his statements regarding the 2020 election did not amount to insurrection.
However, in her 22-page opinion, Juge Wallace dismissed President Trump’s anti-SLAPP motion, writing instead that it is in the public’s best interest, regardless of their political affiliation, that “only constitutionally qualified candidates are placed on the ballot” and “only constitutionally qualified candidates can seek to hold the highest office in the country.”
“The question before the Court, as to this factor, is simple: would the preclusion of a constitutionally incapable candidate from seeking public office enforce an important right affecting the public interest and confer a significant benefit on the public?” the judge wrote.
More States Move to Get Trump Off Ballot
“The Court, again, has little trouble finding that it would. It goes without saying that, in the abstract, ensuring that only constitutionally qualified candidates can seek to hold the highest office in the country, particularly when the disqualification sought is based on allegations of insurrection against the very government over which the candidate seeks to preside, seeks to enforce an important right which confers a significant benefit to the public.
“For the above stated reasons, the Court holds that the anti-SLAPP statute does not apply to this matter and for that reason denies the motion,” Judge Wallace concluded.
President Trump is currently leading the GOP field, holding a significant lead over competitors including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, ahead of the Nov. 5, 2024 elections, according to multiple polls.
Similar lawsuits seeking to remove President Trump from the 2024 Republican ballot have also been filed in Michigan, Minnesota, and West Virginia. A separate one filed in Oklahoma by presidential candidate John Anthony Castro was dismissed on Thursday, The Oklahoman reports.
“We are pleased with the court’s well-reasoned and very detailed order, leading to a thorough decision, and look forward to presenting our case at trial,” the attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Mario Nicolais, said in an emailed statement to Courthouse News Service.
The Epoch Times has contacted a spokesperson for President Trump for comment.
From The Epoch Times