Rob McKenna: Colorado’s Trump ruling will probably be ‘overturned’

Dec 21, 2023, 4:27 PM | Updated: 5:31 pm

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event...

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event on December 19, 2023 in Waterloo, Iowa. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The unprecedented ruling keeping Donald Trump off the ballot in Colorado was a “stretch,” according to former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna.

“It’s because there’s so many decisions the court had to make to reach its final conclusion,” McKenna said, appearing with Dave Ross on Seattle’s Morning News. “Was the riot at the Capitol an insurrection? If it was, did Trump’s remarks rise to the level of giving aid and comfort to the insurrectionists?

“But more important than that, they kind of glossed over the central question here, which is whether or not this is really a matter for the voters to decide. Is it really something the court should decide? Should they deny a large number of voters the opportunity to vote for or against a candidate who has put himself forward?”

Background of the ruling: Donald Trump banned from Colorado ballot in historic ruling by state’s Supreme Court

Most believe the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case and McKenna believes it will also be “a stretch” for it to uphold the Colorado ruling.

“Is it time for Congress to step in and determine once and for all, what constitutes a disqualification from running for office?” Dave Ross asked McKenna. “And who enforces that?

“I don’t think the constitutional amendment is very likely because it’s so hard to amend the Constitution. It’s been a long time since we’ve done it,” McKenna answered. “I think the Supreme Court can help here by providing some interpretation of some of the key questions, such as whether or not the disqualification clause and the 14th Amendment applies to candidates for president. But I doubt they’re going to ultimately conclude that Trump is disqualified here because I think they’re going to be very concerned about, again, what’s called a political question.”

The Dave Ross Commentary: We’re in political-legal limbo after Colorado’s Trump decision

In other words, McKenna reiterated that the court will probably want the voters to decide, or at the very least, state legislatures.

“I think they’re going to be very, very reluctant to wait in here and block Trump from the ballot in any state,” McKenna continued. “And I think, even in Colorado, there was some obvious reluctance. The trial court judge did find that Trump supported insurrection, but did not find that the disqualification clause applies to a presidential candidate. In fact, he said it does not.”

McKenna explained the U.S. Supreme Court is unlike the state Supreme Courts in that, “it is very concerned about separation of powers and the balance of powers among the three branches. And they could do real and lasting damage to the Supreme Court as an institution and really to all the Article Three courts if they were to come in and decide this question instead of leaving it to the voters to decide.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Rob McKenna: Colorado’s Trump ruling will probably be ‘overturned’