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Former Republican secretary of state of Colorado argues Trump should be barred from ballot

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Former Republican secretary of state of Colorado argues Trump should be barred from ballot

Nov 29, 2023 | 6:49 pm ET
By Quentin Young
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Former Republican secretary of state of Colorado argues Trump should be barred from ballot
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The court watches body camera footage of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the United States Capitol during a hearing for a lawsuit to keep former President Donald Trump off the Colorado ballot in court Monday in Denver. (AP, pool/Jack Dempsey)

Mary Estill Buchanan, a former Republican Colorado secretary of state, argues in court papers filed Wednesday that former President Donald Trump should be barred from the Colorado presidential ballot in 2024.

Buchanan joined the advocacy group Colorado Common Cause in making that argument in a brief they submitted as part of a case over whether Trump should be disqualified under a Civil War-era provision of the 14th Amendment.

“This country and its institutions are at a crossroads,” the brief says. “Either the plain mandates of our Constitution will be honored and enforced in the face of partisan outcry (thus preserving the rule of law in America) or they will be subverted to avoid that same partisan outcry (eroding the rule of law accordingly). There is no third future. It would be an error of historical scale to pretend otherwise.”

Buchanan, a Boulder resident, served two terms as Colorado secretary of state, from 1974 to 1983. She was the first woman to serve in that office.

In September, six unaffiliated and Republican voters, backed by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, sued Trump and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, arguing that the former president’s actions in relation to the Jan. 6 insurrection make him ineligible to hold office under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Section 3 of the Amendment prohibits anyone who took an oath to uphold the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” from holding office in the United States.

Buchanan and Colorado Common Cause filed their brief to support the plaintiffs.

Denver District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace this month ruled that Trump indeed “engaged in insurrection” under Section 3, but she ordered him to be placed on the Colorado ballot, because Section 3 does not apply to the presidency, Wallace decided.

The plaintiffs and Trump filed separate appeals to the Colorado Supreme Court, which scheduled oral arguments in the case on Dec. 6.

Buchanan and Colorado Common Cause write in their brief that Wallace got her ruling right except for deciding Section 3 doesn’t apply to the presidency, a component they say is “reversible.” 

“(Trump) allowed a lust for power to supersede his own Oath of Office and over two centuries of American political precedent. Mr. Trump has sought at every turn to inject chaos into our country’s electoral system in the upcoming 2024 presidential election,” they write. “He should be given no opportunity to do so in the state of Colorado.”