The Supreme Court said on Friday it will decide if former President Donald Trump can be kept off the ballot in the 2024 presidential election.
Trump wants to face off against President Joe Biden in the upcoming vote, overturning his 2020 election loss.
Justices at the court recognise the need to reach a decision quickly, as voters will soon begin casting presidential primary ballots across the country.
Colorado has barred Trump from appearing on the ballot due to his role in the 6 January attack on the US Capitol.
The Supreme Court has agreed to take up the former US President’s appeal against this case.
A day before the third anniversary of the riot by Trump supporters aiming at keeping him in power, US President Joe Biden warned his predecessor’s efforts to retake the White House in 2024 pose a grave threat to the country.
“We nearly lost America — lost it all,” he said, referring to events on 6 January.
Underscoring the urgency, arguments will be held at the court on 8 February, during what is normally a winter break for the justices.
The sped-up time frame could allow the court to produce a decision before Super Tuesday on 5 March, a presidential primary election day when the largest number of delegates are up for grabs.
“All I want is fair. I just hope that they’re going to be fair,” said Trump at a campaign event in Iowa.
The court will consider for the first time the meaning and reach of a provision of the 14th Amendment barring some people who “engaged in insurrection” from holding public office. The amendment was adopted in 1868, following the Civil War. It has been so rarely used that the nation’s highest court had no previous occasion to interpret it.
Colorado’s Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote, ruled last month that Trump should not be on the Republican primary ballot. The decision was the first time the 14th Amendment was used to bar a presidential contender from the ballot.
Trump is separately appealing a ruling by Maine’s Democratic secretary of state, Shenna Bellows, that he was ineligible to appear on that state’s ballot over his role in the Capitol attack.
Colorado and Maine’s rulings are on hold until the appeals play out.
Three of the nine Supreme Court justices were appointed by Trump, though they have repeatedly ruled against him in 2020 election-related lawsuits, as well as his efforts to keep documents related to 6 January.
At the same time, Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have helped overturn the constitutional right to abortion, expanded gun rights and struck down affirmative action in college admissions.
Trump’s lawyers claim Colorado’s decision would “unconstitutionally disenfranchise millions of voters” and could be “used as a template to disenfranchise tens of millions of voters nationwide.”
They argue Trump should win on many grounds, including that the events of 6 January did not constitute an insurrection.
Even if it did, Trump’s lawyers claim the ex-president himself did not engage in insurrection.
On January 6, 2021, a violent mob, incited by Trump’s repeated false claims of election fraud, stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the presidential election results.
They breached security, clashed with law enforcement, vandalised property, and disrupted a joint session of Congress certifying the Electoral College vote.
The riot resulted in multiple injuries, deaths, and significant damage, and led to a temporary lockdown of the Capitol complex.