A courtroom in Denver will host, starting Monday morning, something the nation has never seen: a trial to determine whether a major party’s likely presidential nominee is eligible to be president at all.
The lawsuit, filed in September by six Colorado voters with the help of a watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, argues that former President Donald J. Trump is ineligible to hold office again under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. That section disqualifies anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution after having taken an oath to support it.
The plaintiffs say that Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election — including his actions before and while his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to try to stop the certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory — meet the disqualification criteria.
Sarah B. Wallace, the state district court judge presiding over the case, a brief last week, saying the “plain language” of the amendment — which refers to the “president-elect” — applies only to a person whom has already been elected and has nothing to do with states’ ability to adjudicate candidates’ qualifications.
The Colorado lawsuit is one of several efforts around the country to remove Mr. Trump from ballots under the 14th Amendment. Oral arguments in a case in Minnesota are scheduled to begin Thursday, and a lawsuit has also been filed in New Hampshire. Separately, Democratic legislators in California asked their state’s attorney general last month to seek a court opinion on Mr. Trump’s eligibility.
Whatever verdicts come in these cases will not be final. They will almost certainly be appealed by the losing side, and the Supreme Court — which has a 6-3 conservative majority, including three justices appointed by Mr. Trump — is likely to have the final say.