Fact Check: Marines Did NOT Arrest Colorado Supreme Court Judge Who Voted to Remove Donald Trump from State Ballot

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Marines Did NOT Arrest Colorado Supreme Court Judge Who Voted to Remove Donald Trump from State Ballot Real Fake News

Did Marines arrest on Wednesday, December 20, 2023, a Colorado Supreme Court justice, Monica Marquez, who voted in favor of removing Donald Trump from the state's 2024 presidential primary ballot? No, that's not true: This is a fake news article from a website that carries a disclaimer that they publish humor, parody, and satire. The article riffs on the real news of the Colorado Supreme Court ruling of December 19, 2023. Justice Monica Marquez was one of the four justices who ruled that Trump should be disqualified from Colorado's 2024 primary ballot, but she has not been indicted or arrested by the order of U.S. Marine Corps General Eric M. Smith.

The article (archived here) was published by Real Raw News on December 21, 2023, under the title "Marines Arrest Colorado SCJ Who Voted to Remove President Trump from State Ballot". It opened:

United States Marines on Wednesday arrested on charges of treason one of the four Colorado Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of removing President Donald J. Trump's name from the state's 2024 ballot, a source in General Eric M. Smith's office told Real Raw News.

This is how the article appeared at the time of the writing of this fact check:


(Source: realrawnews.com screenshot taken on Fri Dec 22 15:04:18 2023 UTC)

The article continued:

Gen. Smith sent Marines to Colorado after Vice Adm. Crandall compared the court's 230-page ruling against Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which states that "No person shall ... hold any office, civil or military, under the United States ... who, having previously taken an oath ... as an officer of the United States ... 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."

Some details of this article are based on reality and others are totally fabricated. There was a Colorado Supreme Court decision on December 19, 2023, made with a 4 - 3 majority. The ruling (.PDF here) found that, under Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, Donald Trump is ineligible to hold the office of president and should be removed from the 2024 Colorado primary ballot. The names of the four Colorado justices appearing in the article, as well as U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Darse E. Crandall and U.S. Marine Corps General Eric M. Smith are all real names belonging to people with these roles, but they issued no orders for arrests, and Justice Monica Marquez has not been indicted or arrested.

A Google search for results in the past week (archived here) using the Boolean operator "Justice Monica Marquez" (arrested OR arrest) brought up only one result, and the word arrest was not in the main article but in preview captions of the website's sidebar articles. DuckDuckGo results for the same search (archived here) bring up junk news articles spun from the Real Raw News fabrication.

Lead Stories emailed the U.S. Marine Corps Headquarters for comment on December 22, 2023, and will update this article if a response is received.

The name of U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Darse E. Crandall has been used multiple times in conspiracy articles published by Real Raw News. These present him as leading extrajudicial military tribunals and executions, which are a popular QAnon trope. A site-specific Google search for the term "Vice Adm. Crandall" (archived here) brings up more than 70 articles about events that didn't happen, but which claim that Crandall, the Navy's judge advocate general, had announced the arrests of notable people, death sentences, and hangings.

Real Raw News

Real Raw News is a website that consistently publishes made-up stories about U.S. politics. The well-written English and news-style layout of the website make it look like a legitimate news source, so it often fools people into believing the stories are real. Screenshots and copies of the stories regularly turn up on other websites or on social media where they are presented as real.

It bills itself as "humor, parody and satire" on the About page (archived here):


Information on this website is for informational and educational and entertainment purposes. This website contains humor, parody, and satire. We have included this disclaimer for our protection, on the advice on legal counsel.

The same About page claims the main author is a man named Michael Baxter. In 2021, a PolitiFact article (archived here) identified the writer as a "Michael Tuffin" in Texas based on records found in a GoFundMe campaign set up to support the site.

NewsGuard, a tool that provides credibility ratings for websites, published a five-page PDF report (archived here) in 2021 describing realrawnews.com as, "An anonymously run website that has published baseless and debunked conspiracies about COVID-19 and U.S. politics." It cautioned that the website severely violates basic journalistic standards."

Lead Stories has covered claims published by Real Raw News in the past. Previous Lead Stories debunks of Real Raw News items are collected here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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