OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
The Colorado judge presiding over former President Donald Trump’s case to keep him off the state’s 2024 presidential ballot using a provision of the 14th Amendment’s “insurrection” clause is refusing to recuse herself after defense attorneys requested she do so.
The request was made after Trump’s legal team discovered that Denver District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace donated to a group called the Colorado Turnout Project, according to Colorado Politics.
“Its website proudly proclaims that the group was formed ‘shortly after Colorado Republicans refused to condemn the political extremists who stormed the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021,’” Trump attorney Scott Gessler wrote in the motion seeking Wallace’s recusal, which was filed on Friday, according to the report.
“A contribution to the Colorado Turnout Project shows support for the view that January 6, 2021, constituted an ‘insurrection,’” Gessler said, given the group’s stated objective and goals.
Wallace, who donated $100 to the group before she became a judge, did not agree, however.
“I can assure all of the litigants that prior to the start of this litigation and to this day, I have formed no opinion whether the events of Jan. 6 constituted an insurrection,” Wallace said in response to TeamTrump’s motion.
In addition, she said she had not formed any opinion as to whether Trump “engaged in an insurrection or, for that matter, any of the issues that need to be decided in this hearing.”
However, she did not deny making the donation just over a year ago, even going so far as to say such donations are rare for her.
“I do not dispute that on (October 15, 2022), prior to taking the bench, I apparently made a $100 contribution to the Colorado Turnout Project. That being said, prior to yesterday, I was not cognizant of this organization or its mission,” she said.
“It has always been my practice, whether I was entirely successful or not, to make contributions to individuals, not PACs (political action committees),” she added.
That said, the issue of whether Trump engaged in an “insurrection” on Jan. 6, 2021, is likely to be a central question in the case. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment bars Americans who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding elective office.
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof,” Section 3 of the amendment reads. “But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
Colorado law bars judges and judicial candidates from making political contributions, the Western Journal noted. The 2024 Colorado Republican presidential primary is scheduled for March 5.
Late last month, Wallace rejected Trump’s attempt to get a lawsuit thrown out.
In a 24-page ruling, “Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace rejected Trump’s argument that matters of ballot eligibility are limited to Congress, not the courts,” The Hill reported, adding: “Wallace also opposed Trump’s argument that state election officials cannot invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.”
Wallace wrote: “The Court holds that states can, and have, applied Section 3 pursuant to state statutes without federal enforcement legislation.”
The Hill added:
The suit was filed last month by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated voters in Colorado that include former federal, state and local officials. It is part of a wider argument by some legal scholars and lawmakers that Trump is disqualified from the ballot under the 14th Amendment for his alleged actions related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the Capitol.