The Biden administration has enacted or threatened sanctions against foreign nations who have kicked opposition candidates off the ballot, leading some lawmakers to question the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling this week to remove former President Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 election ballot.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision on Tuesday to remove Trump from the state 2024 election ballots, having decided he is disqualified to run for office under the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban,” despite the former president not being criminally convicted of such an offense. The Biden administration has previously used sanctions in retaliation against foreign nations who engaged in stifling political competition and removing opponents from election ballots, as several lawmakers have pointed out this week.
“The U.S. has put sanctions on other countries for doing exactly what the Colorado Supreme Court has done today,” Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said on Tuesday.
“We’d threaten sanctions against countries that had their courts exclude a challenger to protect the incumbent,” Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee said Tuesday.
Today’s ruling attempting to disqualify President Trump from the Colorado ballot is nothing but a thinly veiled partisan attack.
Regardless of political affiliation, every citizen registered to vote should not be denied the right to support our former president and the… https://t.co/yMm4wTb1K8
— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) December 20, 2023
Venezuela, a socialist dictatorship in Central America, was sanctioned by the former Trump administration for undemocratic practices. The Biden administration started to lift some of those sanctions in October if Venezuela agreeing to certain conditions, including a commitment to holding fair elections in 2024 and allowing dictator Nicolas Maduro’s political opponents to appear on the ballot.
“Failure to abide by the terms of the agreement will lead the United States to reconsider steps we have taken, including the easing of sanctions,” Biden’s State Department told the DCNF in November.
However, less than a month after agreeing to the Biden administration’s terms, Venezuelan courts suspended the results of his political opposition leader’s primary election victory results. The suspension was handed down by Venezuela’s top court, which ruled that the opposition leader must be investigated for alleged identity theft, money laundering and conspiracy.
The Biden administration continues to push Venezuela toward holding free elections next year. The administration maintains its warning that it will take measures, including reimposing sanctions, if Maduro’s government does not hold to its word.
However, no sanctions have thus far been reimposed.
Nicaragua, a nation under dictatorship in Central America, had its government hit with sanctions from the Biden administration in 2021, according to the Treasury Department. The Biden administration explained they were imposing sanctions against Nicaragua because of its 2021 “sham election,” as the country’s government removed most of incumbent President Daniel Ortega‘s political opponents from the ballot.
Only five of Ortega’s political opponents were on the ballot in 2021, all of whom were not well known and had little chance of winning, according to CNN. Seven of Ortega’s other political opponents were not allowed to appear on the ballot after being “unjustly arrested” prior to elections, ensuring a “rigged outcome well before election day,” according to the Treasury Department and USA Today.
The Biden administration pointed to the government’s “groundless” misuse of Nicaragua’s Law 1055, which bans anyone deemed as a “traitor” by the country’s government from running for public office.
“The Ortega regime is using laws and institutions to detain members of the political opposition and deprive Nicaraguans from the right to vote,” Office of Foreign Assets Control Director Andrea M. Gacki said in a November 2021 statement. “We stand with the Nicaraguan people in their calls for reform and a return to democracy.”
Belarus, a country in eastern Europe with close ties to Russia, was hit with sanctions by the former Trump administration in 2020 over concerns the country held “fraudulent” elections that year by barring political opponents from the ballot and falsifying voting records, according to the Treasury Department. The Biden administration upheld these sanctions and castigated Belarus in a June 2021 statement for holding illegitimate elections by preventing “multiple opposition candidates from appearing on the ballot and restrictions on the ability of the opposition to campaign,” according to the Treasury.
“The United States and its partners will not tolerate continued attacks on democracy and the ceaseless repression of independent voices in Belarus,” Gacki said in a June 2021 statement. “Today’s actions, taken on both sides of the Atlantic, hold accountable those who continue to suppress the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people.”
Several lawmakers and legal experts have denounced the Colorado Supreme Court’s Tuesday ruling as unconstitutional. The Trump campaign immediately disputed the court’s ruling and said it would quickly move to appeal.
Though he wouldn’t comment on the Colorado Supreme Court’s Tuesday ruling, Biden did tell reporters on Wednesday that there’s “no question” Trump incited an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“Well, I think certain things are self-evident. You saw it all,” Biden said Wednesday. “Now, whether the 14th Amendment applies, I’ll let the court make that decision. But he certainly supported an insurrection. No question about it. None. Zero.”
The White House did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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