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Donald Trump: ‘Blocked’ from Running in Some States?

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and Free Speech for People are trying to keep Trump off state ballots, claiming he’s an insurrectionist.

Donald Trump. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
President Donald J. Trump is joined by Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, left; Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley, right, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in the Situation Room of the White House monitoring developments as U.S. Special Operations forces close in on notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria with a mission to kill or capture the terrorist. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

No Donald Trump in 2024 in some states? A couple of dark money groups – in the name of defending democracy – are attempting to limit voters’ choices. 

In the Name of Democracy

There are more than a few good reasons not to vote for former President Donald Trump. For those who support his agenda, he’s petulant and self-destructive enough that he might be the least likely Republican to achieve it. Those who oppose his agenda, or think him to be a threat to democracy because of his election denial and Jan. 6, would vote against him and muster up majorities to keep him out of office.

But, hey, there are a few reasons to vote for Trump – at least in comparison to the Joe Biden presidency. These include a strong economy, a border that was under control for most of his presidency, and sweeping success in naming judges. 

Trump’s political fate should be up to voters, not a clever means to have him booted from the ballot. The same could be said of any other politician that rubs a lot of Americans the wrong way. Let voters decide.

Either way, the end result is just going to mean making Trump look stronger and his opponents look like a bunch of lawless out-of-touch suppressors. 

Blocking Donald Trump

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and Free Speech for People are trying to keep Trump off state ballots, claiming he’s an insurrectionist. The groups are pressuring Democratic secretaries of state and chief state election officials to block ballot access for Trump based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, one of the post-Civil War amendments. 

The section disqualified any “officer of the United States” who, after taking an oath to support the U.S. Constitution “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States. 

Now, Trump wasn’t convicted of insurrection. Special counsel Jack Smith is still investigating Trump over the Jan. 6 riot, his role in disputing the 2020 election, as well as the classified documents. But he hasn’t even gotten an indictment. Trump was impeached for inciting an insurrection but was acquitted in the Senate

The only legal leg to stand on could be that the House Jan. 6 select committee, made an official finding that Trump engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the 2020 election, and failed to act to stop his supporters from attacking the capital. The Jan. 6 report is a political, not legal document. Still, the strategy has had mixed results. 

States likely to be targeted are solid blue California, New York, Connecticut, Oregon, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington. But also, the groups could target battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, and Georgia. 

The groups have used trial balloons for lowly officeholders that supported Donald Trump, with mixed results. But the legal theory hasn’t been outright rejected–and if anything was advanced.  

Free Speech for the People tried to use Section 3 to eliminate Reps. Madison Cawthorne, R-N.C., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., from the ballot in 2022. Although a federal judge rejected Cawthorne’s First Amendment defense, the case was never concluded since he lost the Republican primary. As for Greene, a court dismissed her case since she was only sworn in a few days before the riot–and her actions (though she objects to certifying Joe Biden’s victory) didn’t constitute an insurrection. 

Both cases represented special circumstances.  

However, in a New Mexico case, CREW succeeded in getting a state judge to disqualify Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin from being on the ballot and holding office because of his role in Jan. 6. The state judge determined Griffin “engaged in insurrection.” The New Mexico Supreme Court dismissed Griffin’s appeal. This is the only time the law has been applied in 150 years, according to ABC News. 

Robert Reich, the labor secretary under President Bill Clinton who is a public spokesman for MoveOn, wrote in The Guardian that Donald Trump committed “treason” in attempting to get state officials to send alternate electors and attempting to get former Vice President Mike Pence not to certify election results. 

“Secretaries of state — who in most cases are in charge of deciding who gets on the ballot – must refuse to place Donald Trump’s name on the 2024 ballot, based on the clear meaning of section three of the 14th amendment to the US constitution,” Reich wrote. 

So, let’s suppose Democratic secretaries of state across the United States decide to kick Trump off the ballot. It would be a terrible show of weakness by Trump enemies and suggests the Left is worried he will win in 2024. 

Also, Trump is at his best when he plays a victim of the establishment and a champion of the people. He would sort of have a point here. Give Americans the chance to defeat him—or, well, elect him – since that is how democracy works.

The Republican Party might well benefit the most if these leftwing dark money groups get their way. Trump is the most likely to lose to Biden in a general election. This clears the way for a wide open primary, instead of Trump vs. everyone else. 

Even if only Democratic state election officials block Donald Trump, blue states are still relevant for both party primaries–particularly since Trump won all the blue state Republican primaries in 2016. 

But publicly, every Republican presidential candidate would have to express outrage about Trump being kept off the ballot. It would be bad politics and for GOP candidates, to appear as though they are endorsing the disenfranchising efforts of Democratic election officials. 

Ultimately, it’s a legal stretch. Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment was aimed at preventing politicians that sided with the confederacy from winning office and obstructing Reconstruction. As awful as the Capitol riot was, it doesn’t seem to fit the intent of the amendment. Such a case would be litigated almost certainly to the Supreme Court, where at least five justices–and maybe more–would strike this down for fear of other precedents in a presidential race. 

Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer, opinion columnist, and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaL.

Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL.