Jim Crawford: Disqualification from 2024 ballot coming for Trump?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 16, 2023

Voters in Colorado and Minnesota have filed court petitions to prohibit Donald Trump from appearing on any election ballot for any office in 2024, and at any time in the future. 

The basis of the claim is the clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits any candidate from being eligible for office if that person has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. or (sic) “give aid or comfort to the enemies” of the nation. 

Both legal filings argue that Trump’s actions in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection satisfy this constitutional clause and define Trump as ineligible for office.

Email newsletter signup

 Before dismissing these two actions as meritless, it is essential to note that several secretaries of state in other states are under some political pressure to withhold Trump’s name from the ballot in 2024, including Michigan, Arizona and New Hampshire. 

Further legal filings could occur from individual voters in other states or states, where the legal interpretation appears to satisfy the constitutional language.

 The 14th Amendment was proposed in 1866 and passed in 1868, intending to prohibit ex-Confederates from holding political office after committing treason against the United States. 

Only recently, in 2022, an elected county commissioner in New Mexico, Covy Griffin, was removed from office by a judge for his participation in the Jan. 6 Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

 Legal scholars are, not surprisingly, divided on the merits of the argument to disqualify Trump. Two conservative legal scholars, William Baude and Michael Stokes, have concluded that the 14th Amendment clause does not require any further congressional action and is enforceable as is. 

Further, they conclude that the clause applies to Trump for his actions on, before and after Jan. 6 in participating in the “attempted overthrow of the 2020 election.” 

Conservative Judge Michal Luttig, writing with professor Lawrence Tribe in The Atlantic, concludes Trump’s actions “place him squarely within the ambit of the disqualification clause, and he is therefore ineligible to serve as president ever again.”

 However, the argument does have issues that remain to be legally defined. 

Was Jan. 6 an Insurrection, so far as Trump intended to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power in the United States? 

Was Trump’s involvement such that his actions, though not physically present in the capitol during the insurrection, sufficient to define his role as a participant or a leader?

 On a broader scale, though not a legal determinate, would invoking the 14th Amendment and preventing Trump from being on the ballot in several states create a new political nightmare between the two political parties, with the 14th Amendment becoming a new political attack for both parties to utilize?

Finally, and perhaps, most importantly, in a democratic republic like ours, should voters always retain the right to elect the candidate of their choice?

 Should any of these filings advance, it may require a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to determine if the four-time indicted, twice-impeached ex-president, who invited his supporters to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 and requested them to go to the capitol while Congress was in session to certify the 2020 election, is eligible to run for office in any election ever again.

Our nation is presently in an ongoing political crisis, one in which the fate of democracy itself remains at issue. 

As a nation, we must decide if what appears to be a clear case of treason against the Constitution by a sitting president can ultimately be saved by the document that founded the nation.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.