Harvard Law Expert Says Colorado Is 'Special' In Fight To Boot Trump From Ballot

Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe shared his insights on the power of a Colorado lawsuit seeking to remove former President Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot.

Six Colorado voters filed the lawsuit last week with the help of watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

It argues that Trump is disqualified from appearing on the state’s ballots in the presidential election under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The provision states that anyone who engaged in insurrection against the Constitution after taking an oath to defend it is prohibited from holding office.

Tribe told MSNBC’s Ari Velshi on Sunday the lawsuit is the strongest challenge yet, in part because the plaintiffs “clearly have standing under Colorado law” and ironclad research backing up their complaint.

Tribe explained that Colorado “is a special place” because “unlike many other states, Colorado has a specific statute which allows registered voters to take the secretary of state to court and demand that the secretary of state exclude anyone who doesn’t meet all of the qualifications, even at the primary stage.”

Tribe believes the case will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Conversations about Trump’s eligibility have gained traction after two conservative constitutional law scholars published arguments about the 14th Amendment last month.

After studying the topic at length, they determined Trump was barred from holding office.

Questions remained as to how the issue would be enforced, who would apply it and whether Trump was simply ineligible to hold office, or ineligible to run for it.

According to Tribe and other law experts, the provision is self-executing, and Trump’s disqualification just is ― as it would be had he already served two terms, or if he were under the age of 35.

If a two-term president tried to join the ballot, the secretary of state would conclude in a hearing that the person was not allowed under the Constitution, Tribe said.

“This is, of course. more controversial because it’s not as mechanical,” he said of the 14th Amendment. “And that’s why it would have to be an elaborate hearing. You couldn’t just say, ‘Oh, he’s obviously an insurrectionist. End of case.’ Clearly, we’re going to have to explore, in this trial, the meaning of insurrection, what it means to be engaged in it, to give it aid and comfort.”

“I think it’s pretty obvious to most people, that if Trump doesn’t qualify, nobody would,” he added.

Trump has called the disqualification effort “election interference,” earning a rebuke from Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D), who is named alongside Trump in the suit.

“Donald Trump incited an insurrection, and there are big constitutional questions around that provision as to whether he is disqualified from the Colorado ballot,” Griswold told MSNBC on Saturday. “So, we’ll see this litigation through, and ultimately I think it’s important for a court to weigh in to provide guidance.”

Similar efforts are developing in other states. The nonprofit group, Free Speech for People, has written to secretaries of state in multiple states, including Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin, urging them to exclude Trump from ballots.

Separate from those legal efforts, Trump has been indicted four times on a total of 91 felonies. Two of the cases concern his attempt to overturn the 2020 election. A conviction would not necessarily prevent him from taking office.