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So You Agree? Donald Trump Engaged in the Insurrection?

Regina George (Rachel McAdams) in 'Mean Girls'.

Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace has ruled that former president and current 91 felony count indictee Donald Trump “engaged in an insurrection.” Not only that, but Trump “actively primed the anger of his extremist supporters” and “acted with the specific intent to incite political violence and direct it at the Capitol.” Finally, a judge calls Trump out for trying to overturn the government! Surely there will be consequences of some kind, like a fine, penalty, or prison. At the very least, Judge Wallace can bar the treasonous former president from running for office ever again … right?

Unfortunately, despite these damning findings (and more from the court’s decision), Judge Wallace will still allow Trump on the presidential ballot in the state of Colorado in 2024. The Colorado case is one of many long-shot lawsuits filed across the country, claiming that Trump violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The cited section of the 14th Amendment prevents any senator, representative, presidential elector, or officer of the United States government who “has engaged in insurrection” and “taken an oath” to “support the Constitution of the United States” from holding public office. Seems like an open-and-shut case to me. Trump has been found to have engaged in an insurrection, ergo, he shouldn’t be allowed to run for office.

Except, according to Wallace, the presidency is not a congressional or official government role. It’s in a category all on its own. And while members of Congress swear to “support” the Constitution, the presidential oath swears to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution. Wallace cited these subtle linguistic differences as reasons why she wouldn’t remove Trump from the ballot. And because Trump has never held any kind of political or military position pre-presidency, these rules don’t apply to him. If you’re infuriated by this constitutional minutiae, consider that the founding fathers never could have imagined that someone who wasn’t an elected politician or military officer would ever win the presidency, let alone someone like Trump.

The non-profit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), who filed the lawsuit, expects that the case will continue. CREW President Noah Bookbinder released a statement on X (formerly Twitter) writing, “We are proud to have brought this historic case. Today was not the end of this effort, but another step along the way.” He added, “We will be filing an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court shortly.”

This ruling is historic, in that it is the first ever to find a president guilty of engaging in an insurrection. And that ought to count for something, but as we well know, the MAGA crowd will continue to support Trump unconditionally. It’s also worth considering the veritable shitstorm of harassment, violence, and death threats from MAGA extremists that Judge Wallace would have to endure had she blocked Trump from the ballot. But that’s no excuse not to apply the rule of law to Trump. And it’s definitely no excuse to publish a 102-page decision that spends 101 pages finding Trump responsible for January 6th and 1 page keeping him on the ballot. The case will likely go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, as the high court has never issued a ruling on that provision in the Constitution.

In all these 91 indictments, will there be any real consequences for Trump, either legally or at the ballot box? For now, the answer tragically seems to be none.

(featured image: Paramount Pictures)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.