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Gavin Newsom Responds to Effort to Block Trump From California Ballot

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Gavin Newsom Responds to Effort to Block Trump From California Ballot

President Donald Trump greets California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom (L) as he disembarks from Air Force One upon arrival at Beale Air Force Base near Marysville, Calif., on Nov. 17, 2018. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips

12/24/2023

Updated: 12/26/2023

California Gov. Gavin Newsom reacted to efforts to try and bar former President Donald Trump from the state’s ballot, coming after a top state official pushed for it.
Last week, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that President Trump should be dismissed from the Colorado ballot for the 2024 election, saying that he violated the Constitution’s 14th Amendment’s Section 3. A majority of justices on the state court ruled that he engaged in an insurrection or rebellion against the United States under their reading of the provision.
The decision has triggered more efforts across the United States, including in California, to disqualify President Trump from appearing on ballots in 2024 under similar pretexts.
But in a statement issued on Dec. 22, Mr. Newsom told his fellow Democrats that he believes that “in California, we defeat candidates at the polls.” Referring to lawsuits against President Trump. “Everything else is a political distraction,” he added.
Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, who is running for governor as a Democrat in 2026, issued a letter last week urging California Secretary of State Shirley Weber to look into “every legal option” to remove President Trump from the ballot in the state. Meanwhile, state Sen. Dave Min, also a Democrat, announced that he would introduce a measure to allow residents of the state to file lawsuits to block candidates who are deemed ineligible.
“Based on the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling ... I urge you to explore every legal option to remove former President Donald Trump from California’s 2024 presidential primary ballot,” the letter to Ms. Weber reads.
Ms. Kounalakis then argued that targeting President Trump for removal is about “protecting the fundamental pillars of our democracy,” repeating a common narrative that has been used against the 45th president and his supporters since the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol protest.
“I am guided by my commitment to follow the rule of law,” she added. “As such, it is incumbent upon my office to ensure that any action undertaken regarding any candidate’s inclusion or omission from our ballots be grounded firmly in the laws and processes in place in California and our Constitution.”

Ruling

The 4–3 ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court, likely to be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court, makes President Trump the first presidential candidate deemed ineligible for the White House under a rarely used constitutional provision that bars officials who have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding office. The former president has not been convicted of, or even charged with, either insurrection or rebelling against the U.S. government.
The ruling applies only to Colorado’s March 5 Republican primary, but it could affect President Trump’s status in the state for the Nov. 5 general election. Nonpartisan U.S. election forecasters view Colorado as safely Democratic, meaning that President Joe Biden will likely carry the state regardless of the court case. As for California, the state has been overwhelmingly favorable to Democrats for decades.
Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives for his civil fraud trial in New York City, on November 6, 2023. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives for his civil fraud trial in New York City, on November 6, 2023. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” the majority justices wrote. “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.”
The former president, who is currently the GOP frontrunner by a large margin, vowed to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Colorado court said it would delay the effect of its decision until at least Jan. 4, 2024, to allow for an appeal. His campaign termed the decision as “undemocratic” and “flawed” and has condemned 14th Amendment challenges as an attempt to deny millions of voters their preferred choice for president.
In other states, courts have rejected several lawsuits seeking to keep President Trump off the primary ballot in other states. Minnesota’s top court recently rebuffed an effort to disqualify him from the Republican primary in that state but did not rule on his overall eligibility to serve as president.
Three Colorado Supreme Court justices dissented from Tuesday’s ruling. They argued that the ruling violated the former president’s due process rights.
“Even if we are convinced that a candidate committed horrible acts in the past—dare I say, engaged in insurrection—there must be procedural due process before we can declare that individual disqualified from holding public office,” one of the dissenting justices wrote.
Like Mr. Newsom, other Democrats have also issued words of caution around the Colorado court’s ruling against the former president last week.
“Do I believe Trump is guilty of inspiring an insurrection and doing nothing to stop it? I was there. Absolutely,” wrote. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), a 2024 presidential candidate, wrote on X. “Do I believe it’s wrong to ban him from the ballot in Colorado without a conviction? Absolutely. Do I believe the SCOTUS must opine immediately? Absolutely.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips

Author

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5

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