Where efforts to disqualify Trump from 2024 ballot stand
Former President Trump on Thursday was blocked from appearing on Maine’s 2024 primary ballot, the second state after Colorado to disqualify him based on the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause over his actions surrounding Jan. 6.
The big picture: Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) determined that Trump’s disqualification was required by the insurrection clause because he threatened the peaceful transfer of power.
Colorado and Maine are just two of at least 35 states considering challenges to Trump’s candidacy over insurrection concerns, though many of the efforts have been unsuccessful.
Context: Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that no one should hold office in the U.S. if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the [U.S.], or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Yes, but: The provision is largely untested and the U.S. Constitution doesn’t lay out how to enforce the clause to disqualify a candidate.
14th Amendment cases state of play
By the numbers: At least seven cases related to the clause have already been dismissed, including in Minnesota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, two in Michigan and two in Florida, per legal analysis by nonprofit publication Lawfare.
The ruling did not address underlying issues surrounding the 14th Amendment, as challengers sought to force Minnesota’s secretary of state to use his authority to exclude Trump from the ballot.
It leaves open the potential for petitioners to bring a challenge related to the general election ballot if Trump becomes the party’s nominee.
Colorado’s case is the first in which a court found that the clause applies to Trump in relation to his actions surrounding Jan. 6.
In response to Colorado’s removal, the state’s Republican Party asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the case. Its petition indefinitely extends the stay to the state court’s order that was due to expire on Jan. 4. The Trump campaign has also said it will appeal the ruling.
What they’re saying: Free Speech For People, which is among the plaintiffs in the 14th Amendment cases, has argued Trump should be disqualified from office for “having engaged in insurrection and rebellion against the U.S. Constitution,” beginning in late 2020 and culminating in the insurrection at the Capitol.
His campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung responded to the Minnesota ruling by denouncing those filing 14th Amendment lawsuits, saying “their ballot challenges should be summarily thrown out wherever they next arise.”
Between the lines: Two leading conservative law professors, William Baude and Michael Paulsen, said in a September article that there are grounds for disqualifying Trump under the insurrection clause.
“If the public record is accurate, the case is not even close,” they wrote. “He is no longer eligible to the office of Presidency.”
Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, told Stateline it would set an “extremely dangerous” precedent to let judges decide who can appear on a ballot.
“What we’re talking about here is telling people that you can’t vote for the candidate of your choice,” said Blackman, who co-authored a paper arguing the clause doesn’t apply to Trump. “This would be the single biggest disenfranchisement in modern history.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional developments, including the Colorado Supreme Court ruling, the Colorado Republican Party’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging it and the decision from Maine’s secretary of state.