'Not a Real Democracy' RFK Jr. Blasts Colorado Supreme Court Blocking Trump From Ballot
'Not a Real Democracy' RFK Jr. Blasts Colorado Supreme Court Blocking Trump From Ballot

By Tom Ozimek

Independent presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. has sharply criticized the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to block former President Donald Trump from the state’s ballot as contrary to democratic norms and values.

“Trump blocked from the ballot in Colorado. When a court in another country disqualifies an opposition candidate from running, we say, ‘That’s not a real democracy.’ Now it’s happening here,” he said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

His remarks came as the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that President Trump is ineligible to appear on the state’s primary ballot for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 incident. The 4–3 decision hinged on two key premises. One is that the U.S. President is a public “officer” in the understanding of the law and that President Trump supposedly engaged in an “insurrection.”

President Trump’s attorneys said they would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. His legal spokesperson, Alina Habba, commented on the Colorado Supreme Court decision in a statement: “It will not stand, and we trust that the Supreme Court will reverse this unconstitutional order.”

In his critique of the decision, Mr. Kennedy Jr. clarified that he’s not a Trump supporter and that’s why he’s running against him—but that he doesn’t want to win on the back of legal maneuvers.

“I want to beat him in a fair election, not because he was kicked off the ballot. Let the voters choose, not the courts!” he said.

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump looks on during a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, on Dec. 19, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Elsewhere, the left-leaning group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sued on behalf of several Colorado voters to block President Trump from appearing on the ballot, praised the ruling.

“CREW successfully barred Trump from the Colorado ballot,” the group said in a call for donations to keep funding its legal fight to prevent the former president from running for office in 2024.

“This is a monumental win—but it’s not over. Trump has made clear he’s going to try to overturn this decision,” the group added.

Not Over Till It’s Over

The unprecedented 4–3 ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court makes Colorado the first and only state to disqualify President Trump from appearing on a state primary ballot. The ruling also makes President Trump the first candidate in U.S. history to be declared ineligible to run for the White House.

A number of other attempts in other states to remove President Trump from the ballot under the 14th Amendment have failed.

The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision centered on an interpretation of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which is known as the disqualification clause. It states that no person shall hold office if they have “previously taken an oath as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States” and engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution.

An earlier ruling in the CREW lawsuit to block President Trump from the ballot found that the former president had engaged in an “insurrection” by supposedly inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. However, the case was dismissed when the judge found that the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to the presidency and ordered the state secretary to put President Trump on the primary ballot.

That move prompted an appeal by CREW to the Colorado Supreme Court, which asked the high court to find that the 14th Amendment does in fact apply to the presidency.

The Colorado Supreme Court sided with the appellants’ argument that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment extends to the presidency, with the ruling stating, “Section Three encompasses the office of the Presidency and someone who has taken an oath as President.”

President Trump’s campaign has denounced the ruling as a partisan decision meant to thwart his White House run.

Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung pledged to “swiftly file an appeal” to the nation’s highest court, saying in a statement: “We have full confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will quickly rule in our favor and finally put an end to these un-American lawsuits.”

In a statement, CREW President Noah Bookbinder said that the Colorado Supreme Court decision is “not only historic and justified, but is necessary to protect the future of democracy in our country.”


Ratified after the Civil War, the 14th Amendment extended citizenship and equal rights to former slaves and all persons born and naturalized in the United States.

Section 3 of the amendment prohibited anyone who had participated in “rebellions” or “insurrections” from holding office unless they had a two-thirds vote of exemption from Congress.

CREW and other petitioners who sued the Colorado secretary of state to force President Trump off the primary ballot argued that “officer of the United States” would certainly cover the highest office in the federal government and so the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause should apply.

However, Colorado 2nd District Court Judge Sarah Wallace said in a 100-plus page ruling that there was “scant evidence” that was the case, noting that the authors of the 14th Amendment specifically listed offices, with the presidency not among them.

“To lump the Presidency in with any other civil or military office is odd indeed,” she wrote, “and very troubling to the Court because as Intervenors point out, Section Three explicitly lists all federal elected positions except the President and Vice President.”

She wrote that the courts would be correct to assume that the omission of the presidency from the disqualification list in the 14th Amendment is intentional.

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