The Denver District Court Judge presiding over the former President Donald Trump’s case to prevent him from appearing on Colorado’s ballot for the 2024 presidential election, Sarah B. Wallace, has refused to recuse herself despite being requested to do so by defense attorneys.
This request was prompted after Trump’s legal team discovered that Judge Wallace had donated to a group known as the Colorado Turnout Project, as reported by 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 prior to her appointment as a judge, did not concur; 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.
She also stated that she had not yet formed an opinion as to whether President Trump was involved in an insurrection or any of the other matters which must be determined during this hearing.
Nevertheless, she confirmed that she made a donation approximately one year ago, noting that such donations are not common 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.
It is likely that the question of whether President Trump engaged in an “insurrection” on January 6, 2021 will be a pivotal point in this case.
According to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, individuals who have participated in insurrection or rebellion are barred 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.
Erica Carlin is an independent journalist, opinion writer and contributor to several news and opinion sources. She is based in Georgia.