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Former federal judge says the Constitution could disqualify Donald Trump in 2024, not Joe Biden’s actions

Conservative former federal judge J. Michael Luttig denied allegations that the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling disqualifying former President Donald Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot was a political choice.

The Colorado court’s decision last week marked the first time a court has embraced a theory that the former president disqualified himself from a second term by attempting to overturn the 2020 election.

In an interview with MSNBC on Saturday, host Ali Velshi asked the former judge about concerns that disqualifying the 2024 Republican frontrunner is anti-democratic, even if it complies with the United States’ laws.

Luttig criticized politicians and media outlets for taking up the argument, explaining “It is the Constitution itself that tells us that disqualification is not anti-democratic.”

“Indeed, the Constitution tells us that it is the conduct that can give rise to disqualification. Namely, an insurrection or rebellion that is anti-democratic. To me, that’s about as clear as any document or Constitution could make that point,” Luttig said.

“I think it’s crystal clear, and it will be crystal clear to the American public, that it’s the Constitution of the United States that’s disqualifying the former president from higher office, if he is to be disqualified. To speak to the political warriors, it’s not President Joe Biden. It’s not the Democrats. It’s not the anti-Trumpers. It’s the Constitution of the United States,” he added.

The legal puzzle at the center of the case is the wording of the Constitution’s insurrection clause and whether Trump incited an insurrection when his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

A Colorado district judge last month held that Trump had “engaged in an insurrection” by inciting the mob that stormed that U.S. Capitol but that the provision of the 14th Amendment that disqualifies certain officials involved with insurrection did not apply to a president. However, the Colorado Supreme Court rejected that argument in their 4-3 ruling, finding that the section does apply to the former president.

“We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” the court 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.”

Contributing: John Fritze and David Jackson, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2024: Judge says the Constitution could disqualify Trump, not Biden