WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — An effort to kick former President Donald Trump off the ballot went to court in Colorado on Monday, with a similar case in Minnesota set to pick up later this week.
Both cases argue that under the “insurrection clause,” Trump should be barred from becoming president again.
“Trump engaged in insurrection and therefore cannot appear on the ballot,” Eric Olson, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said.
Olson alleged that the 14th Amendment should apply to Trump because of his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election and incite the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
George Washington Law professor Paul Schiff Berman isn’t involved in the lawsuit, but says this case isn’t far-fetched.
“This is not a crazy legal theory,” Berman said.
He says the 14th Amendment is straightforward in prohibiting those who engage in insurrection from holding higher office. So he believes the key question in this case will be whether Trump did engage in insurrection.
“Somebody who foments an actual insurrection to block the democratic transition of power should not be able to run the government that he previously tried to overthrow,” Berman said.
The lawyers defending the former president argue he’s not an insurrectionist and call the lawsuit election interference.
“It’s the people who get to decide. And this lawsuit seeks to cancel that principle. This lawsuit is anti-democratic,” Trump lawyer Scott Gessler said.
There’s a similar lawsuit set to go in front of the Minnesota Supreme Court on Thursday.
Berman says it’s possible the judges rule against the plaintiffs because they see Trump’s actions as speech protected under the First Amendment. But, if either of the lawsuits are successful, he believes it would have important legal implications.
“It would set an extraordinary precedent and might open up new litigation in future political races,” Berman said.
No matter what the rulings are, there are likely to be appeals. That means these cases could go all the way to the Supreme Court.