Calling himself `presumptive nominee,' Trump tells Supreme Court to keep him on the ballot

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WASHINGTON − Calling himself the 'presumptive nominee' for president, Donald Trump on Monday asked the Supreme Court to protect the rights of the tens of millions of Americans who want to vote for him.

In a filing days before the nation's top court considers the case for removing him from the Colorado ballot, Trump's lawyers argued that taking him off would be 'anti-democratic', similar to recent actions in Venezuela. His lawyers are appealing the decision by Colorado to disqualify him from running in that state because of an anti-insurrection clause in the Constitution.

'There was no `insurrection,'' Trump's lawyers wrote. 'President Trump did not `incite' anything, and President Trump did not `engage in' anything that constitutes `insurrection.'

Citing a 1964 decision about state legislative districts, Trump's lawyers said the court has previously held that "the right to vote freely for the candidate of one's choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government."

Colorado's highest court ruled in December that Trump's is disqualified from running for president because of his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election results − and the role that played in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment bars from office anyone who engaged in insurrection after promising to support the Constitution.

Did not 'engage in insurrection'

Trump argues that provision doesn’t apply to presidents. And even if it did, his lawyers say, he did not “engage in insurrection.”

Trump's eligibility is being challenged by six Republican and independent voters in Colorado who are represented by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a watchdog group.

He calls Colorado's decision the "lone outlier" among the many unsuccessful court challenges. While the Colorado case is the only one that has succeeded in court, Maine’s secretary of state, ruled in December that Trump is ineligible for that state’s ballot. That decision, which Trump is appealing, is on hold until the Supreme Court rules in the Colorado case.

Disqualifying Trump would be the "same anti-democratic measure" that Venezuela's socialist dictatorship undertook when it excluded the leading opposition candidate for president from the ballot, his lawyers told the court.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd during a campaign event in Manchester, N.H., on Jan. 20, 2024.
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd during a campaign event in Manchester, N.H., on Jan. 20, 2024.

In a previous filing, Trump's lawyers warned there'd be ''chaos and bedlam" unless the court put a “swift and decisive end” to disqualification efforts.

Attorneys for the voters challenging Trump’s eligibility say the nation already witnessed on Jan. 6, 2021, the bedlam Trump caused when he refused to accept his re-election defeat. The Constitution makes him ineligible from being in a position to do so again, they’ve told the court.

Trump is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, although Iowa and New Hampshire are the only states that have awarded delegates.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who continues to challenge the former president, is hoping for a strong showing in her home state of South Carolina on Feb. 24. But polls show Trump with a big lead over Haley in South Carolina and beyond.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump tells Supreme Court ballot disqualification is anti-democratic