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Historic hearings began on Monday in a Colorado courtroom on a novel scheme to permanently bar former President Donald Trump from the White House under a specious claim involving a provision of the 14th Amendment.
Plaintiffs in the case argue that Trump should be prevented from running for federal elective office over his alleged actions on Jan. 6, 2021, the day a riot broke out at the U.S. Capitol Building following a “Stop the Steal” speech Trump gave in D.C. a short distance from the building. Democrats and some Republicans have labeled the riot an “insurrection” while blaming Trump for whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Trump has never been charged with that crime, however.
ABC News noted that a similar hearing is set to begin on Thursday in Minnesota. The outlet adds:
On Monday morning in Denver, a historic five-day evidentiary hearing got underway for a lawsuit filed against Trump by six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters, represented by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
CREW President Noah Bookbinder has said that his organization brought its suit in Colorado because “it is necessary to defend our republic both today and in the future.” The group’s complaint accuses Trump of inciting and aiding the mob at the Capitol two years ago, which he denies. He was impeached on similar charges but acquitted by Republicans in the Senate.
Trump has long denied he was involved in any sedition or insurrection. And a spokesperson for his campaign recently said of the 14th Amendment cases: “The people who are pursuing this absurd conspiracy theory and political attack on President Trump are stretching the law beyond recognition.”
Lawyers for CREW called two Capitol Police officers who were there that day as well as far-left Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), one of hundreds of lawmakers who were inside the building.
“The events on Jan. 6, 2021, in the United States Capitol were horrific. It was a terrorist attack on the United States of America, an assault on democracy and an attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” one of the officers, Danny Hodges, speculated.
An attorney for CREW claimed in an opening statement that “Trump incited a violent mob to attack our Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power under our Constitution. … And we are here because Trump claims after all that he has the right to be president again.”
Meanwhile, CNN reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected another “longshot” 14th Amendment case brought by “John Anthony Castro, a little-known candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, who sued Trump earlier this year in an effort to disqualify him from running for president and holding the office ‘given his alleged provision of aid or comfort to the convicted criminals and insurrectionist that violently attacked our United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.’”
His case, and the others, rely on Sect. 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or has “given aid or comfort” to insurrectionists from holding federal elective office. The amendment was one of three ratified immediately following the Civil War. The provision has only been used twice in the history of the amendment, both times against former Confederates.
John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general, and Robert Delahunty, a Fellow of the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life, both argued in a column published by The Federalist in August that attempting to bar Trump from office under the 14th Amendment ultimately will not be successful.
They both agree that the “insurrection clause” of the amendment remains relevant today, but they took issue with legal scholars who believe it applies to Trump.
“While their theory about the continuing relevance of the Constitution’s insurrection clause strikes us as correct, they err in believing that anyone, down to the lowest county election worker, has the right to strike Trump from the ballot,” they wrote.