The Colorado judge presiding over the first significant lawsuit against former President Donald Trump from the state's 2024 presidential race issued a protective order Friday that bars threats and intimidation in the case, saying the safety of those involved — including herself and their employees – is necessary. The groundbreaking legal dispute is progressing.
“Based on what we have seen in other cases, I 100% understand everyone’s concerns with the parties, the attorneys and frankly myself and my staff,” District Judge Sarah B. Wallace said in approving the protective order.
The order prohibits parties in the case from making threatening or intimidating statements. Scott Gessler, a former Colorado secretary of state who is representing Trump in the case, opposed it. He said a protection order was unnecessary because threats and intimidation were already prohibited by law.
It was requested by lawyers from the liberal group Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which wants to bar Trump from the election under a rarely used clause of the Civil War-era 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Gessler said some of the heated rhetoric in this case came from the left.
“We are having a heated political debate here,” he said. “For better or worse, this case has become a flashpoint.”
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed across the country seeking to disqualify Trump from the 2024 election under the 14th Amendment's clause, which bars anyone from running for office who has sworn an oath to the Constitution and then “commits to insurrection” against it has let in. Their arguments revolve around Trump's involvement in the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election.
The Colorado case is the first filed by a group with significant legal resources. The matter is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled on the Insurrection Clause in Section Three of the 14th Amendment.
Wallace has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 30 to discuss whether Trump must be removed because of Colorado law that bars candidates who don't meet the qualifications for higher office from appearing on ballots. She said she wants to give the Colorado Supreme Court — and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court — as much time as possible to review the decision before the state sets its 2024 presidential primary on Jan. 5.
A parallel case in Minnesota, filed by another well-funded liberal group, is scheduled to go before that state's Supreme Court on Nov. 2.
Trump's lawyers are expected to file two motions to dismiss the lawsuit later on Friday. It will be argued that the litigation is an attempt to retaliate against Trump's free speech rights. Wallace has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 13 to discuss that claim.
Sean Grimsley, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, proposed the protective order in court Friday. He cited federal prosecutor Jack Smith last week as seeking a warrant against Trump for making threats as part of his prosecution of the former president for attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“At least one of the parties tends to tweet — or Truth Social,” Grimsley said, referring to Trump’s own social network where he disseminates most of his statements, “about witnesses and the courts.”