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Lawmakers react to Colorado barring Trump from its primary ballot

Republican politicians from far and wide shared their opinions after former President Donald Trump was barred from Colorado's primary ballot Tuesday.
Lawmakers react to Colorado barring Trump from its primary ballot
Posted at 8:17 PM, Dec 19, 2023

Former President Donald Trump is barred from appearing on Colorado's presidential primary ballot due to his part in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the state's Supreme Court decided Tuesday.

In a 4-3 ruling, the historic judgment cited the 14th Amendment's insurrection clause, marking the first time the provision has been used to disqualify a presidential candidate.

"We do not reach these conclusions lightly," the majority justices wrote. "We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach."

The Trump campaign was on the obvious side of opposition, calling the decision "completely flawed" and sharing they would "swiftly file" an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But while the Democratic-appointed Colorado Supreme Court was nearly split, Republican lawmakers were largely on the same side and even used many of the same words to describe the judgment — saying, for example, that it constituted "election interference" or that it was "unprecedented."

Though there weren't many Democratic lawmakers sharing their opinions on the decision, here were the notable Republican reactions to the news Tuesday.

Trump's presidential competitors

The former president's Republican colleagues joined in sharing their adverse reactions, including those who would appear on the primary ballot alongside him.

In a lengthy post on X, GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy called the judgment an "un-American, unconstitutional" attack on democracy and pressed his competitors to act with him in repudiating Colorado's primary.

"I pledge to *withdraw* from the Colorado GOP primary unless Trump is also allowed to be on the state's ballot, and I demand that Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, and Nikki Haley to do the same immediately — or else they are tacitly endorsing this illegal maneuver which will have disastrous consequences for our country," Ramaswamy wrote in the post.

DeSantis seemed to allude to the Colorado Court's decision without actually mentioning many specifics when quoting a post on X that mentioned a "politically motivated ruling." 

The Florida governor wrote, "The Left invokes 'democracy' to justify its use of power, even if it means abusing judicial power to remove a candidate from the ballot based on spurious legal grounds. SCOTUS should reverse."

While campaigning in Iowa Tuesday night, Haley told reporters she plans to beat Trump "fair and square" in the election and said, "We don’t need to have judges making these decisions. We need voters to make these decisions."

And Christie seemed to agree, telling a Town Hall in Bedford, New Hampshire, that he doesn't believe any court should be able to interfere with Trump becoming president again, though he said he couldn't comment on the opinion itself until fully reading it.

"I think he should be prevented from being president of the United States by the voters of this country. I don't believe that it's good for our country if he's precluded from the ballot by a court. I think it's bad for the country if that happens," Christie said, adding Trump should have a criminal trial proving his involvement in the insurrection before this step.

SEE MORE: Who's in the race for the White House? Meet the 2024 candidates

Other top Republicans

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson called the Colorado Supreme Court's decision a "thinly veiled partisan attack" and, like Christie, said voters should be able to decide if they want to support Trump. And in a post on X, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel simply called the "irresponsible ruling" "election interference."

Other Trump allies echoed similar sentiments, with House GOP Chairwoman Elise Stefanik also calling it "un-American" and Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake also claiming the ruling amounted to "election interference." 

Out of Florida, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said in a post on X, "The U.S. has put sanctions on other countries for doing exactly what the Colorado Supreme Court has done today." And Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, who recently campaigned for Trump, called the decision "the most dictatorial move the Biden administration and their allies could ever even think of."

Shortly after the decision Tuesday, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis said he plans to create a law that would prevent this from every happening again, calling this a "mockery" of the political system done by "left-wing activists."

"American voters, not partisan activists, should decide who we elect as our President," he said. "The Constitutional Election Integrity Act would put any constitutional challenges in the sole place they belong: the U.S. Supreme Court."

Democratic lawmakers

Democrats were largely quiet after the decision was announced Tuesday, with just some outliers in the aisle publicly sharing their thoughts.

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow, whose district includes parts of Denver, said his state's top court "has it right." 

In a post on X, California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said it was "about time" Trump faced "accountability for inciting an insurrection."

As for President Biden, don't expect a comment: A campaign spokesman said his campaign will not be responding or reacting to Colorado's decision, according to the New York Times.

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