For a judge to rise to the position of the state supreme court, one presumes that those judges are pretty bright on the law that affects appeals under their consideration. Bright judges also refer to existing case law and precedence established on similar cases in the past. Further, the oath of office requires them to uphold both the state and the United States constitutions. Judges are not allowed to insert personal or political views into their rulings. To do so is unethical and cause for removal.
Four Colorado Supreme Court judges failed in all the categories described above when they ruled that former president Trump was not eligible to be on Colorado’s ballot for president. The judges unilaterally ruled that Trump is an insurrectionist (without Trump ever being criminally charged with insurrection) and therefore, based on the 14th Amendment, Section 3, they opined Trump cannot hold any federal public office.
Section 3 states, “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President … shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
The “shall” language in legal terms generally is interpreted that the crime had been proven to have occurred. No defendant in the January 6th prosecutions has yet been charged with insurrection. No criminal insurrection charges have yet been brought against former president Trump. There is no language in the 14th Amendment suggesting state courts have the authority to act.
While these judges, and Democrats, are pushing hard to remove former president Trump from the ballot based on Section 3, they go to great lengths to avoid the more important Section 1 of the 14th Amendment, which states, ”Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Former president Trump has not been afforded any form of due process in this ruling.
Then there is history and related legal precedence to consider.
True, following the Civil War, the Republican majority in Congress did prevent Confederate veterans from serving in Congress. The 14th Amendment was ratified by the states on July 9, 1868, three years after the war, to justify previous removals.
But President Ulysses S. Grant was pushing reconciliation over retribution and Section 3 quietly became something of the past and has not been used since the post-war years.
The neutering of Section 3 is illustrated by the 1874 national elections. Democrats won the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives that year. Ninety-two democrats were elected to office; 51 were Confederate veterans.
Additionally, in the post-war years leading up to the turn of the century, 63 former Confederates became U.S. Senators.
None of the Senators or House members were charged with insurrection.
As for Colorado, they had their own Confederate Senator. Charles S. Thomas was born in Georgia, fought for the Confederacy, and took up residence in Colorado after the war. He served as a Colorado U.S. Senator for eight years.
All this history was readily available to the judges, as it was to this author. But hate alters reality and judgment, which is clearly demonstrated in this ruling.
In my view, Colorado’s Supreme Court ruling is breathtakingly foolish, seriously flawed, politically motivated and shows a willing participation in election interference by the judges. The U.S. Supreme Court must smack the ruling down quickly and unambiguously.
Gary P. Morris is chairman of the Gila County Republican Party.