Key takeaways from unanimous Supreme Court Colorado ruling

by Lauren Bratton

Photo: Alamy

Democrats and their operatives were dealt a devastating blow on Monday morning when the United States Supreme Court ruled that Colorado and other states could not remove President Trump from the ballot.

In a 9-0 ruling, the Supreme Court reversed the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision that excluded President Trump from the state’s primary election ballot. The justices unanimously agreed that “states have no power under the constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency.”

While the news came as no surprise to those who listened to the skepticism in the justices’ voices during oral arguments, the ruling sent a clear message to other states that may have been planning similar actions.

The per curiam decision made clear that:

  • The Fourteenth Amendment disqualification clause is only enforceable by Congress, not the states.
  • One state cannot determine the outcome of a federal election.
  • States can only enforce Section 3 for those seeking state offices.

The justices noted that “patchwork” rulings from different states would “sever the direct link that the Framers found so critical between the National Government and the people of the United States.”  

Liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote separately, arguing that five Justices went too far when they decided “novel constitutional questions to insulate this Court and petitioner from future controversy.” In other words, they did not agree that Congress was the only body that could enforce Section 3 of the Constitution.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett also wrote separately, arguing that the lawsuit brought in front of the Court was to determine “that States lack the power to enforce Section 3 against Presidential candidates.” She went further, writing that she “would decide no more than that.”

The decisive ruling prompted conservative lawmakers and governors nationwide to weigh in.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., posted on X, formerly Twitter, writing that “the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed what we all knew: the Colorado Supreme Court engaged in a purely partisan attack against the frontrunner for the Republican presidential primary.” He warned other states to “take notice and leave it to the American people to decide who will be president.”

Read the full opinion here.

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