A lawsuit has been filed in Minnesota to keep former President Donald Trump off the 2024 ballot on the grounds that Trump is responsible for the protest of Jan. 6, 2021 and the ensuing Capitol incursion.
Section 3 of the Reconstruction-era 14th Amendment is being used as a legal prop for the effort.
The relevant section reads: “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.”
The Minnesota filing follows a similar action in Colorado that also used the 14th Amendment as its basis in law.
“Donald J. Trump, through his words and actions, after swearing an oath as an officer of the United States to support the Constitution, engaged in insurrection or rebellion, or gave aid and comfort to its enemies, as defined by Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the suit from the liberal group Free Speech for People said.
“The events of January 6, 2021, amounted to an insurrection or a rebellion under Section 3: a violent, coordinated effort to storm the Capitol to obstruct and prevent the Vice President of the United States and the United States Congress from fulfilling their constitutional roles by certifying President Biden’s victory, and to illegally extend then-President Trump’s tenure in office,” the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, everything Trump did to challenge the election was a form of revolt.
“The effort to overthrow the results of the 2020 election by unlawful means, from on or about November 3, 2020, through at least January 6, 2021, constituted a rebellion under Section 3: an attempt to overturn or displace lawful government authority by unlawful means,” the lawsuit said.
Ron Fein, legal director at Free Speech for People, said Trump “incited a violent insurrection that attacked the U.S. Capitol, threatened the assassination of the vice president and congressional leaders, and disrupted the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation’s history,” according to NBC.
“Our predecessors understood that oath-breaking insurrectionists will do it again, and worse, if allowed back into power, so they enacted the Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause to protect the republic from people like Trump. Trump is legally barred from the ballot and election officials must follow this constitutional mandate,” Fein said, adding that the group may file similar suits in other states.
The Minnesota suit is aimed at Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon, who said he will not ban Trump.
“The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State does not have legal authority to investigate a candidate’s eligibility for office. In the case of presidential candidates, the major political parties will submit names of candidates to our office for the Presidential Nomination Primary by January 2, 2024. Those submissions will appear on the ballot for the March 5, 2024 contest unless a court says otherwise,” Simon said in a statement.
“The people who are pursuing this absurd conspiracy theory and political attack on President Trump are stretching the law beyond recognition,” Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement to ABC News in response to the Colorado lawsuit, adding, “There is no legal basis for this effort except in the minds of those who are pushing it.”
Legal scholar and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley mocked the legal underpinnings of the lawsuits in an Op-Ed for The Hill.
“This 14th Amendment theory is something that good liberals will read to their children at night. It goes something like this: Donald Trump can never be president again, because the 14th Amendment bars those who previously took federal oaths from assuming office if they engaged in insurrection or rebellion. With that, and a kiss on the forehead, a progressive’s child can sleep peacefully through the night,” he wrote.
Turley said he has little patience with the “argument that any effort to stop a constitutional process is akin to an insurrection or rebellion under the 14th Amendment.”
“If that were the standard, any protests — including the anti-Trump protests and the certification challenges to electoral votes in 2016 — could also be cited as disqualifying. If that were the case, figures such as Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md) could be summarily purged from office for having sought to overturn an election,” he wrote.
“We would be left on a slippery slope, as partisan judges and members would seek to block opposing candidates from ballots, all supposedly in the name of protecting democracy. There is a simpler and more obvious explanation for what occurred on Jan. 6, 2021: A political protest became a political riot, and a constitutional theory became constitutional legend.”