House, Senate GOP leaders urge SCOTUS to halt ‘dangerous precedent,’ defend Trump’s ballot access

House, Senate GOP leaders urge SCOTUS to halt ‘dangerous precedent,’ defend Trump’s ballot access

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FIRST ON FOX: Republican House and Senate leaders filed an amicus brief in support of former President Donald Trump’s case against the Colorado Supreme Court for removing him from the state’s 2024 ballot. More than 170 lawmakers signed the brief. 

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., filed the brief on Thursday, arguing the court’s decision ‘encroaches’ on Congress’ powers and that Congress must pass authorizing legislation to enforce the 14th Amendment, which the Colorado Supreme Court cited as the basis for removing Trump. 

‘The radical left consistently does what they claim their opponents are doing. While President Biden and his allies claim they are defending democracy, their supporters are working to undermine democracy by banning Biden’s likely general election opponent from appearing on the ballot,’ Cruz said in a statement to Fox News Digital. ‘The American people see through this, and I’m confident the Supreme Court will as well.’

Scalise said in a statement that the Colorado court is ‘setting a dangerous precedent’ and ‘subverting the will of the American people.’

‘Not only does the Colorado Supreme Court have no authority to remove President Trump from the ballot in the 2024 presidential election, but the broad and ill-defined justifications they use can easily be abused in the future to block political opponents from assuming office,’ he said. 

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., one of the lawmakers who signed the brief, said ‘liberal activist judges’ are weaponizing the legal system against Trump ‘solely because they despise him.’

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., another signer, said the Colorado Supreme Court ‘mis-stepped and overstepped.’

Lawmakers assert in the 29-page amicus brief that it infringes on the prerogatives of Congress members and argue the court overlooked various textual and structural limitations in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which says no one shall assume office if they have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the U.S. government.

Additionally, they criticized the court for adopting a broad interpretation of what it means to ‘engage in insurrection,’ which they believe could result in the widespread misuse of the 14th Amendment against political opponents.

‘The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision severely intrudes on those congressional powers first by allowing enforcement of Section 3 without congressional authorization, and then by concluding that Section 3 authorizes a state to de-ballot a candidate,’ the brief states. ‘The Fourteenth Amendment expressly gives Congress the ‘power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.’’ 

‘In other words, Section 3 enforcement mechanisms are left to Congress, not to a patchwork of state officials and courts,’ lawmakers wrote. 

The brief states that if Congress decides to approve enforcement legislation outside of criminal contexts, it has the option to narrow down the scope by providing more specific definitions for terms like ‘engaging in’ and ‘insurrection.’ 

‘Congress could even require a factfinding process and standards of proof that accord with the gravity of the consequence,’ the brief read.

The brief contends that ‘in polarized times, it is easy to cast an opponent’s rhetoric about the outcome of elections as encouraging others to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.’

‘According to President Biden, a sizable portion of the Republican electorate, if not all of it, is determined to destroy democracy,’ the brief read. ‘When partisan state officials believe so much is at stake, they may go to great lengths to interfere with the ordinary democratic process. That makes it all the more critical to minimize the partisan incentive to boot opponents off the ballot using the incredible sanction of Section 3.’ 

In December, the Colorado Supreme Court disqualified Trump from appearing on the state’s ballots in 2024.

The disqualification, which was made under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, is related to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

‘We do not reach these conclusions lightly,’ the court’s majority 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.’

In a previous ruling, Colorado District Judge Sarah B. Wallace allowed Trump to stay on the ballot, but found that Trump ‘engaged in insurrection’ for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said in a statement that she would ‘continue to follow court guidance on this important issue.’

‘The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that Donald Trump is barred from the Colorado ballot for inciting the January 6 insurrection and attempting to overturn the 2020 Presidential Election. This decision may be appealed,’ Griswold wrote.

Fox News’ Bill Mears and Adam Sabes contributed to this report. 

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