After ruling Tuesday that former President Donald Trump is barred from the Colorado primary ballot because he is disqualified from becoming president again on 14th Amendment grounds, Colorado Supreme Court justices are facing violent threats across both mainstream and fringe social media platforms, according to a report obtained by CBS News. The Colorado justices ruled the U.S. Constitution bars Trump from retaking the Oval Office due to his conduct surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Posts have included calls for the justices and Trump opponents to be killed by gunfire, hanging or bombs, while others are encouraging followers to stock up on weapons and ammunition and urging a civil war against Democrats. Many users have been responding directly to Trump’s posts on his social media platform, Truth Social, with the same violent rhetoric and calls to arms.
“What do you call 7 justices from the Colorado Supreme Court on the bottom of the ocean?” one user wrote. “A good start.”
“The Justices should be arrested and sent to GUANTANAMO,” another user wrote.
“The country is over anyway,” wrote another. “Only thing left is civil war and retribution against those who destroyed it.”
Other users suggested that Trump’s opponents should be thrown out of helicopters, recreating the method Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet used to kill his political opponents, and others blamed Jews for the court’s decision.
The threats against the justices, all seven of whom are Democrats, were first aggregated and analyzed by Advance Democracy, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that conducts public interest research.
The group’s president, Daniel J. Jones, remarked in a statement to CBS News that, “We are seeing significant violent language and threats being made against the Colorado justices and others perceived to be behind yesterday’s Colorado Supreme Court ruling. The normalization of this type of violent rhetoric is cause for significant concern. Trump’s statements, which have sought to delegitimize and politicize the actions of the courts, is serving as a key driver of the violent rhetoric.”
Some of the justices who voted in favor of removing Trump from the ballot had their office email addresses, building addresses and photos shared online.
In their 4-3 ruling, the justices recognized its magnitude and alluded to the potential for retribution, writing, “We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.”
The decision by the Colorado court has set up a showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court over the constitutional provision at the center of the case, one that could threaten Trump’s eligibility for the presidency if the U.S. high court rules against him.
The threats against the Colorado justices are the latest in what has been a steady stream of violent online rhetoric against law enforcement and judges who take action against the former president.
Such rhetoric has, predictably, spiked with every major legal development involving Donald Trump, according to Advance Democracy. This includes when Trump was indicted in New York on charges relating to his alleged hush money payments, after he was indicted in Fulton County, Georgia, and after he was indicted in Florida and Washington, D.C. on charges brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the legal cases against him.
The potential for intimidation related to Trump’s cases has led two different courts to impose gag orders on him in an effort to protect those involved in the cases from threats and harassment, as well as the integrity of the proceedings. A gag order was placed on Trump in his New York civil fraud trial after he attacked the judge’s clerk on social media, leading to a torrent of serious and credible threats against her. He has since violated that gag order twice.
In the federal election interference case, Trump’s gag order bars him from going after witnesses about their participation in the case, court staff and relatives of prosecutors and court staff. Trump is in the process of trying, yet again, to challenge that gag order, saying it infringes on his right to free speech.
In August, a woman was charged with threatening to kill Judge Tanya Chutkan, who oversees the 2020 election subversion case. Abigail Jo Shry allegedly left a message at the judge’s chambers that said, “If Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you, so tread lightly. …You will be targeted personally, publicly, your family, all of it.”
A spokesperson for the Colorado Supreme Court declined to comment to CBS News. The Trump campaign hasn’t responded to a CBS News request for comment.
— Olivia Rinaldi and Matthew Mosk contributed to this report.