Karl Rove Predicts Colorado Supreme Court’s Trump Ruling Will Backfire

Karl Rove Predicts Colorado Supreme Court's Trump Ruling Will Backfire


Political strategist Karl Rove claimed that the Colorado Supreme Court ruling to take former President Donald Trump off the state’s ballot will backfire on Democrats.

The ruling, he told Fox News, “makes him a victim” and “makes him look like he’s on the receiving end of unfair partisanship, and it is unfair.”

“This is hearkening back to the Reconstruction era, a section of the Constitution, of the 14th Amendment, that doesn’t ever mention the word president and requires somebody to have been involved in insurrection or rebellion against the government,” the former Bush deputy chief of staff said, referring to the court’s ruling and its interpretation of the amendment’s provision.

The 14th Amendment provision has been used “twice in the history of our country,” including once during the early 20th century, Mr. Rove noted. “This is clearly politics. And it’s the hard left of America deciding to make hay while they can. And it’s helping President Trump, which [is] one of the great ironies,” he said.

“Do I like what happened on January 6th? No. Do I think President Trump should have immediately spoken out and told his followers on Capitol Hill to leave in peace? Absolutely. But to say that he is engaged in what the 14th Amendment requires is simply … not sufficient,” he said.

Earlier this week, a slim majority of the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that President Trump is disqualified from appearing on the state’s ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bars anyone engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding federal office. The Colorado Supreme Court paused its ruling pending review by the U.S. Supreme Court, which Trump said he will immediately seek.

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“We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” the majority justices—all appointed by Democrats—wrote in the ruling. “We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.”

A lower court judge previously ruled that President Trump’s alleged actions on Jan. 6, 2021, during the U.S. Capitol breach, amounted to insurrection but stopped short of disqualifying him, saying that Section 3 doesn’t apply to presidents.

The former president has not been convicted of insurrection by a jury and did not have the right to subpoena records or compel witnesses to testify in the case, among other basic rights afforded to criminal defendants. His lawyers will likely argue that his due process rights—also under the Fourteenth Amendment—were violated if and when the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court.

Even if the ruling survives a U.S. Supreme Court review, it could be inconsequential to the outcome of the November 2024 election because President Trump does not need to win Colorado and is not expected to, given its significant Democrat leanings. The state, with its nine electoral votes, was won by President Joe Biden during the 2020 election.

Voters and advocacy groups have sued to block President Trump from the ballot in more than 12 states, but at least seven of them have failed for a variety of reasons. Courts in Michigan, New Hampshire, and Florida have dismissed similar cases on procedural and jurisdictional grounds, with some rulings stating that courts do not have the power to unilaterally disqualify candidates from ballots.

The Colorado case was brought by a group of Colorado voters, largely aided by the left-wing advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). It argued that the former president should be disqualified for, according to them, trying obstruct the transfer of presidential power to President Biden after the 2020 election on Jan. 6.

CREW President Noah Bookbinder, who is currently serving on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s advisory council, said in a statement that the court’s decision is “historic and justified,” and “is necessary to protect the future of democracy in our country.”

 Supporters cheer as US President Donald Trump arrives to address a "Keep America Great" rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on February 20, 2020. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters cheer as US President Donald Trump arrives to address a “Keep America Great” rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on February 20, 2020. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

But in response to the ruling, conservative commentators, including former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, said that a court issuing an order to remove President Trump from the ballot goes against democracy.

“None of this seems very American. All of it looks like the actual end of democracy,” said Mr. Carlson in a video posted to X, formerly Twitter, earlier this week.

He later continued to say in the video that “despite the fact Donald Trump has never been convicted by any court of insurrection, and although the 14th Amendment specifically does not apply to the presidency, Donald Trump cannot run for president because he’s an insurrectionist. This seemed like lunacy because it was lunacy.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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