Trump Judge Gets Into Tense Spat With Lawyer

In a tense back-and-forth with Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson during oral arguments on the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to bar Donald Trump from the state primary ballot, Trump’s attorney Jonathan Mitchell said the January 6 attack on the Capitol was not an insurrection but “a riot,” Business Insider reported.

Justice Jackson cited the Colorado Supreme Court’s conclusion that events at the Capitol “qualified as an insurrection, as defined by Section Three,” and noted that Mitchell’s opening brief “seemed to suggest they were not.”

Mitchell explained that Trump’s legal team did not accept the premise that January 6 was an insurrection and said the opening brief stated that nothing then-President Trump did could “plausibly be characterized as an insurrection.”

Jackson followed up by asking if Mitchell believed that January 6 “did not involve an organized attempt to overthrow the government.”

Mitchell responded that for an insurrection, there must be “an organized, concerted effort” to overthrow the US government, prompting Justice Jackson to suggest that Mitchell was saying that if the effort was “chaotic” rather than “organized,” it would not be an insurrection.

Mitchell disputed her suggestion, arguing that the Trump team contended that January 6 was not “an effort to overthrow the government.” He argued that the criteria for an insurrection were not met on January 6.

Mitchell added that while the events were “shameful,” “criminal,” and “violent,” January 6 was not an insurrection but a riot. He concluded that as such, it did not meet the definition of insurrection as the term is used in Section Three.

From the line of questioning during oral arguments, it appeared that both the conservative and liberal justices were skeptical of the Colorado high court’s ruling to disqualify Trump based on Section Three.

Several justices, including liberal Justice Elana Kagan and Chief Justice John Roberts, voice concerns about the broader implications of the Colorado decision, with Justice Roberts describing the ruling as “ahistorical” and contrary to the “thrust” of Section Three.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh also suggested that the Colorado ruling could disenfranchise voters in the state “to a significant degree” by preventing them from voting for the candidate of their choice.