Critics online are arguing the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was dubbed an “insurrection” by Democrats and others two years ago—in its immediate aftermath—in order to set up rulings like the Colorado Supreme Court’s last night.
That court on Tuesday ruled that former President Donald Trump is ineligible to hold office again because his actions on and leading up to Jan. 6, 2021 constituted engaging in an insurrection, keeping him off the ballot for the state’s primary.
The ruling—which is expected to now head to the conservative-led U.S. Supreme Court—has been widely condemned by the right, including many of Trump’s primary opponents.
For example, Vivek Ramaswamy pledged to withdraw from the state’s GOP primary should the decision stand, and called for other candidates to do so as well—or else be “tacitly endorsing this illegal maneuver which will have disastrous consequences for our country.”
And for others critical of the court’s decision, the language used by Democrats describing Jan. 6 as an insurrection came into focus.
“In case you were wondering why Dems & the media kept calling January 6th an ‘insurrection,’ it was to make this possible,” wrote conservative writer Drew Holden.
Holden then included images of headlines discussing what Jan. 6 should be called and added: “I don’t mean this in some kind of conspiratorial way. The press know the power of words and framing. Getting people to conclude Jan 6 was an insurrection is obviously very problematic [legally] for Trump, as this ruling makes evident.”
Others on X made similar assertions, with one person writing that the court’s decision “is why the democrats kept calling this an insurrection.”
Some people pushed back once again against the framing that Jan. 6 was an insurrection, with users on social media noting that Trump was never charged with insurrection—and arguing that his actions did not amount to that crime.
“Protesting an extremely troubled election is not an insurrection and people should loudly condemn anyone who says it is,” wrote conservative commentator Mollie Hemingway.
“Please show us where President Trump was charged with and convicted of inciting an insurrection?” another user said in response to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) praising the court’s decision. “In fact, can you even show us ONE person who was charged with an insurrection? No matter how many times you repeat the word, it doesn’t make it true.”
“It wasn’t an insurrection. Our fault for allowing the Democrats to brand it as such,” wrote another.
However, the 14th Amendment, which serves as the basis of the Colorado decision, does not explicitly state that an individual has to have received a conviction in order to be barred from holding office.
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof,” reads the section in question.
Remarking on the case, attorney Jonathan Turley told Fox News that Jan. 6 “was many things, most of it not good.”
“In my view, it was not an insurrection, it was a riot,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that the people responsible for that day shouldn’t be held accountable. But to call this an insurrection for the purposes of disqualification would create a slippery slope for every state in the union.”