Columnists, Elections, Jon Caldara, Legal, Politics

Caldara: Plaintiffs in Trump ballot access lawsuit get it wrong

(You can listen to this column, read by the author, here).

I would love it if Donald Trump were not the Republican nominee for president in 2024.

The main reason is simple. I don’t want Joe Biden to be elected again. And just about any of the other Republicans running would easily beat him.

There’s a chance, well under 50%, Trump will be able to vanquish Biden in a rematch. For Democrats who believe their best strategy is to make sure Trump is on the ticket, be careful what you wish for.

For Republicans who believe Trump can topple a dazed and confused Biden with dementia, most polls say he won’t. And there’s still a good chance Biden won’t be the nominee, either by pressure from within the Democratic Party or due to his health reasons.

And just as any other Republican would easily beat Biden, any other Democrat would easily beat Trump.

One way to keep Trump off the ballot is by court order. Thus, a group of Coloradans is suing to kick him off the Colorado GOP primary ballot, saying it’s a violation of the 14th Amendment, of which Section 3, a remnant of the Civil War, says no one can serve in public office who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

I know many of the plaintiffs to this Colorado suit, and I respect them. They’re taking this action because they truly believe Donald Trump is guilty of insurrection and a danger to the nation.

Among the plaintiffs are Norma Anderson, former centrist Republican Colorado powerhouse legislator. Few people earn the status of one-name like “Cher” or “Bono.” “Norma” does, and for good reason. It would be a mistake to underestimate her intellect or love of Colorado.

But in this case, I think Norma and her pals are wrong. Not evil. Just wrong.

Saying Trump violated the 14th Amendment, no matter how often the news media repeats it, simply doesn’t make it true. You see, we have this nasty “presumption of innocence” thing, and that equally annoying “day in court” crap.

And, no matter how dishonorable Trump’s behavior was on Jan. 6, 2021, and it was, he didn’t lead a civil war, nor a rebellion, nor an insurrection.

Let’s remember in 2011 when members of the teachers union and their supporters took over the Wisconsin state capitol for days, not hours. No one demanded those rioters, and their leaders, could never run for office. In fact, no one in the media called it an insurrection, even though it prevented the “people’s work.” Funny, huh?

Donald Trump has never been charged, no less than convicted, with insurrection under the U.S. code. You’d think special prosecutor Jack Smith would have gleefully tried if he thought he had a shot at it in court. Conspiracy to overthrow an election, what he is charged with, is not insurrection.

Likely the plaintiffs don’t even have legal standing in this instance. But even if they did, and even if they won, their effort would be moot. Trump lost in Colorado by 16 percentage points last time. And that was before the Jan. 6 debacle. Since then, the state has turned more blue. He will lose Colorado by an even larger number in 2024

Colorado’s electoral votes will never go to Trump (or likely any Republican) in 2024.

Maybe he is a danger to the nation. He might be guilty of stoking the fires of a riot on Jan. 6.

But there is no conceivable way he will be found guilty of the crime of insurrection in a court of law, especially without being charged with that crime.

It is much more possible he’ll be found guilty of mishandling classified documents in Mar-a-Lago, but I find it doubtful that will keep him off a nationwide ballot.

The only court where he can be found guilty of “insurrection” is in the court of public opinion. And that takes a public vote.

The founders of our nation designed a robust system to protect from tyranny. So far it has worked. Let the people vote, and it will continue to work.

I see Trump as a crazed narcissist. Others see him as a power-mad tyrant in the making. If it’s the latter, the Founders’ system is strong enough to handle it.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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