The Colorado ruling disqualifying Trump is already having an impact

The Colorado ruling disqualifying Trump is already having an impact

An important feature of the Colorado Supreme Court decision disqualifying Donald Trump from the ballot is that it still hasn’t taken effect, and it’s unclear when — or if — it will. By the state court’s own initiative, its ruling is on hold until Jan. 4, the day before Colorado’s primary certification deadline, and Trump can extend that hold by simply seeking U.S. Supreme Court review by then. So, the mechanics of that pause make it likely Trump appears on the primary ballot despite the state court decision that he can’t. 

But that doesn’t mean the otherwise momentous ruling isn’t having an effect as 14th Amendment challenges proceed across the country. Look at Maine, where Secretary of State Shenna Bellows was set to decide this week whether Trump can be on that state’s ballot. She pushed the decision to next week, following the Colorado ruling. Maine’s Portland Press Herald reported that a spokesperson for Bellows, a Democrat, said the time change is due to the Colorado ruling as well as technical difficulties in the secretary of state’s office that have interfered with deadlines for the parties to submit briefs. (Unlike other state cases against Trump, Maine’s election official is deciding this one but it can be challenged in the state’s courts.)

At first glance, it’s unclear why a ruling in Colorado would have to affect a case decided in Maine or anywhere else. But the fact that the Colorado case already has such an impact, however slight, is a reminder of that power.

That’s because the Colorado justices laid out a detailed opinion addressing multiple issues in an unsettled area of the law that states across the country are grappling with. While it doesn’t technically serve as a binding precedent for other states, the Colorado ruling can serve as a guide for other decisions across the country, such as the impending one in Maine. Though the U.S. justices can have the last word, other states may look to Colorado for now.

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Jordan Rubin

Jordan Rubin is the Deadline: Legal Blog writer. He was a prosecutor for the New York County District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan and is the author of “Bizarro,” a book about the secret war on synthetic drugs. Before he joined MSNBC, he was a legal reporter for Bloomberg Law.

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