Colorado will make headlines across the world this week as the U.S. Supreme Court will hear ain the Centennial State. The lead plaintiff in the case is a 91-year-old former state lawmaker and diehard Republican. Norma Anderson says she never dreamed she would be part of an effort to keep her own party’s leading candidate off the ballot. That is, until Jan. 6, 2021.
Anderson says the attack on the U.S. Capitol on that day was an attack on democracy and the consequences for that, she says, are spelled out in an obscure clause in the Constitution. It hasn’t been used in more than 100 years, but on Thursday it will be front and center in the nation’s highest court, where justices will parse every word. Anderson will be sitting only a few feet away.
The judicial review of the unprecedented case comes less than two months after ascrambled the 2024 election. At issue is whether former President Donald Trump should be on the state’s primary ballot. Six Colorado voters — four Republicans and two unaffiliated — brought the lawsuit, arguing Trump is ineligible to hold office because he engaged in an insurrection. The state supreme court agreed, prompting Trump to make his federal appeal.
For nearly 20 years, Anderson made headlines at the Colorado State Capitol. The former state lawmaker and diehard Republican was the nation’s first female majority leader in state politics. She led creation of the department of transportation and helped write the Public School Finance Act. Now she’s making headlines again, this time as the lead petitioner in a case that could upend the 2024 election.
Our democracy is too precious to let a Donald Trump be president and destroy it,” she said this week at her Lakewood home.
Anderson says the Founding Fathers contemplated a candidate like Trump. When he did nothing to stop the attack on the capitol, she says she knew he was ineligible to run again.
“I knew he fit under Section 3,” she said.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the, states that any officer of the United States who engages in an insurrection after taking an oath to uphold the Constitution can’t hold office again.
“Trump wanted to overturn an election. That’s insurrection, and that’s where 14th Amendment comes in,” she said.
Anderson had already made the connection when she got a call asking if she would join the lawsuit. She didn’t hesitate.
“If you read your Constitution, you know what should be done and what should not be done,” Anderson said.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was originally written to keep Confederates from holding office after the Civil War. It has never before been tested. Trump’s legal team argues the clause — which doesn’t specifically reference the presidency — doesn’t apply to the executive branch and that can’t be enforced without an act of Congress. During an interview with CBS News Colorado Political Specialist Shaun Boyd, Boyd asked Anderson for her response to what Trump’s team says.
“Oh bull. Pardon me. Yes, it does. If you go back and read Hamilton and some what he wrote, he refers to the president as an officer,” she said.
If the conservative-leaning high court sticks to the Constitution, she says, its decision should be easy.
“Do I think I’ll win? I don’t know. It’s like shooting craps. You never know what you’ll get,” she said.
Either way, she says she has no regrets. For all her political endeavors, she says Trump v. Anderson may be the most profound.
“I feel like I’m saving our country. Not I. The attorneys, all of us. But I’m a part of that,” she said.
Anderson says the case is about far more than keeping Trump off Colorado’s ballot. She says it’s about setting a precedent other states can follow.