Jonathan Ambarian

HELENA (KPAX) — Former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot is again breaking with Republican leadership, signing onto a court filing supporting efforts to keep former President Donald Trump off the ballot in 2024.

Racicot joined two other former Republican governors from the 1990s – Bill Weld of Massachusetts and Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey – in submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, as justices consider whether the state of Colorado can remove Trump from the ballot.

Last month, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Trump wasn’t qualified for the ballot based on his actions leading up to the Jan. 6 riot. They cited the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says no one can hold federal office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S.

Racicot and the other governors argued in their brief that they and Trump have all taken oaths to protect and defend the Constitution. They said Trump violated his oath through actions that were “elevating his own political interests over the governmental stability secured by the peaceful transition of power.”

“Should Mr. Trump be permitted to stand again for election to the presidency, despite his past actions, neither Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment nor the oaths that undergird the bedrock premise that public officials serve to advance the welfare of the people and our common national project will ever be the same,” they continued. “They will have been rendered meaningless in their legal force and stripped of their moral authority and power.”

Racicot was twice elected governor as a Republican, serving from 1993 to 2001. However, in recent years, he’s angered state GOP leaders by endorsing Joe Biden over Trump in the 2020 presidential election and supporting Democratic-backed candidates in several Montana races. Last year, the state Republican Party Executive Committee approved a resolution rebuking Racicot.

Several top Montana Republicans have defended Trump’s place on the ballot. U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and the National Republican Senatorial Committee that he chairs submitted their own amicus brief, arguing that the Colorado Supreme Court had overstepped their authority.

“The right of all citizens to participate in free and fair elections and to vote for the candidate of their choice is the Constitution’s bedrock guarantee of American democracy,” their brief read. “The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision barring President Trump from the Republican Party’s primary election ballot breaches that guarantee and, if left standing, threatens to thwart the democratic process and the will of the American people in 2024 and beyond.”

Attorney General Austin Knudsen signed on to a brief with two dozen other Republican state attorneys general, saying the courts were wrong to take a position that Trump’s actions qualified as “insurrection.”

“[W]ithout a proclamation, courts—the Colorado Supreme Court included—are ill-equipped to second-guess the judgments of politicians, soldiers, and diplomats about how to label politically charged conflicts,” they said. “But when it comes to the events of January 6, at least, the Colorado court simply had no legal standard to apply.”