The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether former President Donald Trump can remain on the ballot in Colorado's Republican Primary.
The Colorado Supreme Court previously sided with a group of voters who sued to have Trump removed from the ballot, arguing that he is ineligible to run for office under the 14th Amendment because he committed insurrection by riling up a crowd of his supporters who eventually stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, while a joint session of Congress was certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Trump appealed the ruling, arguing that Congress has the final say over whether a candidate should be disqualified from running for office.
During the arguments in front of the nine Supreme Court Justices, Trump's legal team also argued that the president is not considered an "officer of" the United States and, therefore, the 14th Amendment does not apply.
They also claimed that what happened on January 6 was not an act of insurrection but was, instead, nothing more than a riot.
"We never accepted or conceded in our opening brief that this was an insurrection," Trump attorney Jonathan Mitchell said, responding to a question from Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. "What we said in our opening brief was President Trump did not engage in any act that can plausibly be characterized as insurrection."
"For an insurrection, there needs to be an organized, concerted effort to overthrow the government of the United States through violence," he continued.
"A chaotic attempt to overthrow the government doesn't qualify?" Jackson said, interrupting Mitchell.
"We didn't concede this was an effort to overthrow the government either," Mitchell replied.
Several Justices were also skeptical that a single state should have the power to remove a candidate from the ballot in a national election.
"I think that the question that you have to confront is why a single state should decide who gets to be President of the United States," Kagan asked Jason Murray, the attorney representing the Colorado voters who sued to have Trump taken off the ballot. "Why should a single state have the ability to make this determination not only for their own citizens but also for the nation?"
Chief Justice John Roberts appeared concerned that a ruling in favor of Colorado could lead to other states using the 14th Amendment to remove other candidates from the ballot in the future.
"It'll come down to just a handful of states that are going to decide the presidential election," Roberts said. "That's a pretty daunting consequence."