December 22nd, 2023

By Aaron Marbone


North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik this week panned a ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court as “unAmerican” and “illegal.” The ruling, if not overturned, would block Donald Trump from appearing on that state’s ballot in 2024, citing a portion of the Constitution barring anyone who swore an oath to uphold that Constitution and who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion … or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” from holding office again.

Stefanik, the GOP Conference chairwoman, is again defending Trump, but while she says she is defending him from attacks from Democrats, the lawsuit which could keep him off Colorado’s ballots was brought by six Republican and unaffiliated voters, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal-to-nonpartisan watchdog organization which brought the suit to court on behalf of the voters.

“Democrats will stop at nothing to prevent President Trump’s return to the White House,” Stefanik wrote.

A plaintiff in the case, Claudine Schneider, is a Republican who represented Rhode Island in the House and lives in Colorado. She opposed Trump in the 2016 election. Krista Kafer, a columnist for the Denver Post and Republican activist who voted for Trump in 2020, also is named as a plaintiff. Michelle Priola, who is married to Colorado state Sen. Kevin Priola, is a plaintiff. Kevin switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic in 2022 over the attempts he saw to overturn the 2020 election. Norma Anderson, a former Colorado state legislator who left the party over its support of Trump, is the first plaintiff listed on the lawsuit. Other plaintiffs are Kathi Wright and Christopher Castilian.

The Colorado court’s ruling on Tuesday cites Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This ruling is not final, and the case has risen to the U.S. Supreme Court, where nine justices, three appointed by Trump, will make a decision. If the Colorado court’s ruling is upheld by SCOTUS, it would block Trump from all state’s ballots, ending his hopes of returning to office, according to the Associated Press. If it is overturned, it would also mark the first time the highest court in the land ruled on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

The crux of the case is over Trump’s involvement in “engaging” the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 in a violent attempt to stop Congress from confirming Joe Biden as the president. There are different arguments around the extent of Trump’s involvement in this. He told supporters to “fight like hell” to save their country before a portion of them walked over to break through police barricades at the Capitol. Trump’s lawyers have argued that he is exempt from this portion of the Constitution based on the technical definition of the presidential office.

Stefanik has not gone in depth about the legal arguments in her public statements about the case. She outright claims the judges who made this ruling are partisan and working on behalf of Democrats.

“Four partisan Democrat operatives on the Colorado Supreme Court think they get to decide for all Coloradans and Americans the next presidential election,” Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, wrote in a statement. “Democrats are so afraid that President Trump will win on Nov. 5, 2024 that they are illegally attempting to take him off the ballot. Like the rest of the unprecedented, constant, and illegal election interference against President Trump, this will backfire and further strengthen President Trump’s winning campaign to Save America.”

Stefanik, a veteran of Trump’s campaign, used this as a fundraising opportunity, linking to donation pages and telling people to “FIGHT BACK” by donating to his and her campaigns.

“President Trump was viciously erased from the ballot by radical Democrats who seek to steal the election and take away our vote,” she wrote. “We need to return President Trump to the White House to #SaveAmerica!”

All of the Colorado court’s judges were appointed by Democrats, but there was a 4-3 split decision on this case. There have been dozens of lawsuits similar to this one in Colorado, but all others have failed. The Colorado court’s majority based its ruling in part on precedence set by Trump-appointed SCOTUS Judge Neil Gorsuch, based on a ruling from his time as a federal judge in Colorado.

Stefanik recently met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago. In a photo posted on Dec. 18, the two flash thumbs up and grins.

“The stakes could not be higher. Patriots will continue to unite behind President Trump’s campaign to #SaveAmerica,” Stefanik wrote.

Behind Trump is a photo of him shaking hands with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

Stefanik vehemently opposed both impeachments of Trump when he was president, in floor speeches which led in part to her making a name for herself in Congress and catching the eye of Trump, who at the time dubbed her a “star.”

As some other Republicans have shied away from aligning themselves with Trump, Stefanik has stuck by him, defending him in the myriad legal battles he’s been in since leaving the White House and remaining critical of Biden on a daily basis. Her posts abut the Colorado court ruling came between posts calling Biden the Grinch and sounding the alarm about an “invasion” of “illegals” “wreaking havoc on New York.”

Stefanik has also been accusing the Department of Justice of being “weaponized” against Trump in the former president’s many legal battles. She does, however, support House Republican impeachment inquiry into Biden and whether he enabled “bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors” through allowing his son Hunter to “influence the domestic policy of a foreign nation and accept benefits from foreign nationals in exchange for favors.”

“Joe Biden is compromised and unfit to serve as President of the United States,” Stefanik recently wrote on X.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has not spoken publicly on the Colorado court ruling yet. When asked about it by a Politico reporter, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said, “I haven’t studied it.”