Written by Luke Fisher
Since its decision on Trump’s ballot access, the Colorado Supreme Court has been confronted with an unfortunate reality – the ominous specter of violence looms over its justices, individuals tasked with upholding the bedrock principles enshrined in the United States Constitution. The source of this threat? The principled enforcement of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment consistent with a clear and unequivocal mandate that was born out of the post-Civil War era.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment stands as a constitutional bulwark against those who, having previously sworn allegiance to the Constitution, engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States. The language is straightforward and accessible even to a high school senior. Its application to the events of January 6, 2021, is crystal clear – those who resort to violence when electoral outcomes do not align with their wishes forfeit their right to hold office.
Recent legal decisions in New Mexico, Colorado, and Maine have underscored the relevance and urgency of enforcing Section 3. In September 2022, a New Mexico court ruled that the founder of “Cowboys for Trump” must be removed from his position as county commissioner due to his involvement in the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. Similarly, the Colorado Supreme Court and the Maine Secretary of State have interpreted the same unambiguous language to preclude former President Donald Trump from appearing on the Colorado ballot in 2024.
However, a disconcerting trend has emerged within conservative circles, where some advocate for a selective disregard of Section 3 in the name of “voters’ rights.” This position contends that the electorate should determine whether a figure like Trump can ascend to the presidency again, despite his attempts to subvert the democratic process in 2020. Section 3, however, firmly rebuffs this stance by disqualifying individuals who have attacked the very foundations of democracy from seeking office in the aftermath of their failed insurrection.
Ironically, this rejection of Section 3 by some conservatives stands in stark contrast to their unwavering support for the absolute interpretation of the Second Amendment to prevent voters from enacting common-sense gun control measures. As someone who grew up in close proximity to the tragic events at Columbine High School, where twelve students and a teacher lost their lives, the dichotomy is glaring. Over 300 fatal school shootings have occurred since Columbine, yet the same individuals advocating for a strict reading of the Constitution to keep assault weapons largely unregulated choose to ignore the explicit command of Section 3.
The Colorado Supreme Court and its counterparts in other states face the challenge of preserving constitutional integrity in the face of threats and criticisms. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is not a mere suggestion but a constitutional imperative designed to safeguard the essence of our democratic principles. The selective adherence to constitutional provisions, based on political expediency, undermines the foundation of our nation. Upholding Section 3 is not a matter of partisanship but a commitment to the fundamental principles that define our democracy.