Republicans And States Watching Closely Amid Efforts To Disqualify Donald Trump – There is a constitutional argument – first proposed by two conservative legal scholars last month – which could disqualify former president Donald Trump from holding public office.
Section Three of the 14th Amendment disqualifies anyone who has taken the oath to support the constitution if they later “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
The article’s argument has since gained traction, with New Hampshire Republican Bryant “Corky” Messner prompting the state’s Secretary and Attorney General into “carefully reviewing the legal issues involved.” Given that the 14th Amendment argument is being promoted by anti-Trump conservatives, rather than liberals, it has naturally caused much debate within Republican circles.
Conservative Conflict over Donald Trump
The efforts to keep Trump off the New Hampshire ballot is somewhat of a longshot.
Any disqualification will undoubtedly be appealed by the Donald Trump campaign to the Supreme Court, where conservatives – three of whom were appointed by the former president – control a 6-3 majority.
“When it gets to the Supreme Court, as it surely will, this will test the dedication of the justices to principles of law, more than almost anything has for a very long time,” Laurence H. Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard who believes the insurrection disqualification clearly applies to Mr. Trump, told the New York Times.
It may not just be Trump’s team joining the legal battle. Chris Ager, chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party and neutral on his preferred candidate, has already committed to any appeal to a disqualification.
“There’s no question that we will fight, and we’ll use all of the tools available to us to fight anyone’s access being denied on the ballot,” said Ager. “And if there’s a lawsuit, we are likely to intervene on behalf of the candidate to make sure that they have access. So we take it very seriously that the people of New Hampshire should decide who the nominee is, not a judge, not a justice system.”
States Seeking Guidance
Disqualification is an rare situation arising from an amendment introduced following the Civil War.
New Mexico County Commissioner Couy Griffin was removed from his post under Section Three in 2022 for his participation in the Capitol riots, although such action on the national stage has not been used since Victor Berger was removed from the House of Representatives in 1919.
Alas, Secretaries of State are watching New Hampshire carefully before coming to their own conclusions.
“We’re taking a very cautious approach to the issue,” said Arizona’s Secretary of State, Adrian Fontes. “We’re going to be consulting with lawyers in our office and other folks who will eventually have to deal with this in the courts as well. We don’t anticipate that any decision that I or any other election administrator might make will be the final decision. This will get ultimately decided by the courts.”
In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger indicated that failed efforts to bar Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from the ballot in the 2022 midterms would be used as a precedent.
“As secretary of state of Georgia, I have been clear that I believe voters are smart and deserve the right to decide elections,” said Raffensperger. “In Georgia, there is a specific statutory process to follow when a candidate’s qualifications for office are challenged.”
“The secretary of state’s office has and will continue to follow the appropriate procedures in state law for any candidate challenges,” he concluded.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
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