In recent weeks, Colorado and Maine have made headlines for taking the previously unprecedented step of removing former President Donald Trump from this year’s presidential ballots. But the efforts have extended far beyond those two states, with challenges being raised in at least 31 states.
What You Need To Know
- In recent weeks, Colorado and Maine have made headlines for taking the previously unprecedented step of removing former President Donald Trump from this year’s presidential ballots
- But the efforts have extended far beyond those two states, with challenges being raised in at least 31 states
- Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies anyone from serving in a wide range of federal and state offices if they have taken an oath of office to protect the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion"
- The question is expected to ultimately land before the U.S. Supreme Court
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies anyone from serving in a wide range of federal and state offices if they have taken an oath of office to protect the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.”
Trump critics and some constitutional law scholars allege that Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021 — when a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and halted the certification of the 2020 presidential election — and in the weeks leading up it should make him ineligible under the Constitution.
But Trump supporters and other legal experts disagree, arguing there is much debate about whether what happened at the Capitol meets the definition of an “insurrection or rebellion” or whether Trump supported it.
The question is expected to ultimately land before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here is a look at all the 14th Amendment challenges and where they stand.
States where Trump has been disqualified, at least for now
Last month, Colorado became the first state ever to declare a presidential candidate ineligible under the 14th Amendment when the state Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s “direct and express efforts, over several months, exhorting his supporters to march to the Capitol to prevent what he falsely characterized as an alleged fraud on the people of this country were indisputably overt and voluntary.”
“Moreover, the evidence amply showed that President Trump undertook all these actions to aid and further a common unlawful purpose that he himself conceived and set in motion: prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election and stop the peaceful transfer of power,” they added.
Trump has repeatedly argued he was trying to restore integrity to an election that he has falsely claimed was plagued by widespread fraud.
The Colorado Republican Party has already appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, is expected to do the same Tuesday.
The challenge was filed in September by six Colorado voters, all Republicans or residents not affiliated with a political party, including former state, federal and local officials.
In Maine, the state’s top election official, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, ruled Thursday that Trump is ineligible to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot under the Constitution’s insurrection clause.
Bellows made the ruling after some state residents, including a bipartisan group of former lawmakers, challenged Trump’s position on the ballot.
“I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” Bellows wrote in her 34-page decision. “I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”
Trump is also expected to appeal Bellows’ ruling.
States where challenges have failed
On Thursday, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber said she will include Trump on her state’s primary ballot despite pressure from public officials, including Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, to remove him.
“I am guided by my commitment to follow the rule of law,” Weber wrote in a letter to Kounalakis. “As such, it is incumbent upon my office to ensure that any action undertaken regarding any candidate’s inclusion or omission from our ballots be grounded firmly in the laws and processes in place in California and our Constitution.”
One day earlier, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected hearing an appeal of a lower court’s ruling that kept Trump on that state’s primary ballot. The court said it denied the request by the watchdog group Free Speech for People “because we are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this court.”
The appeals court had earlier ruled that the Republican Party could place anyone it wants on the primary ballot. It did not weigh in on whether the 14th Amendment might disqualify Trump in the general election.
In November, the Minnesota Supreme Court took a similar stand, ruling that state law allows parties to place whomever they want on their primary ballots while leaving open the possibility that plaintiffs could try again to boot Trump from the November ballot.
In September, New Hampshire’s top election official, Secretary of State David Scanlan, said state law requires him to put anyone on the ballot who pays the filing fee and attests to meeting age, citizenship and residency requirements. Scanlan concluded that the 14th Amendment does not pertain to the election process.
“At a time when we need to ensure transparency and build confidence among voters around the country, the delegate selection process should not be the battleground to test this constitutional question,” he said.
In addition, a federal judge in October dismissed a lawsuit from a little-known Republican presidential candidate, John Anthony Castro, challenging Trump’s eligibility on New Hampshire’s ballot, ruling the Texan lacked standing to sue there. The ruling was upheld by the 1st Circuit Court Appeals a few weeks later.
Judges in Arizona, Rhode Island and West Virginia also have tossed lawsuits filed by Castro based on his lack of legal standing. He is appealing the rulings in Arizona and West Virginia.
And Judges in Virginia and Florida also have dismissed lawsuits, alleging the plaintiffs there, too, lacked standing to challenge Trump’s eligibility.
According to a tracker by The Lawfare Institute, 11 other lawsuits have been voluntarily dismissed by plaintiffs. Those were in Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Utah.
Meanwhile, challenges are pending in Alaska, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to Lawfare. Castro has filed seven of the lawsuits in those nine states.
In the other two cases:
Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade said in November state law does not give her the authority to remove Trump from the primary ballot. She did not weigh in on the general election. Free Speech for People has appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court.
In Wyoming, a retired attorney asked a state judge to bar Trump from the ballot. Secretary of State Chuck Gray has called the effort “outrageously wrong and repugnant to our electoral process” and vowed to prepare “a vigorous defense.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.