Lawsuits to remove Trump from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars certain government officials who took an oath to the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” from holding office, have been filed in a number of states, including Colorado, Michigan, and Minnesota. Democratic and Republican secretaries of state in places where lawsuits have been filed say this is a question the courts need to weigh in on, according to multiple reports.
“We’re not going to take a side in this lawsuit, whether former President Trump is or isn’t ineligible, but what we will double down on is saying to the court, that it is the court’s job,” Democratic Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon told KSTP 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis on Friday. “That it isn’t our job to make that determination.”
“One way or another, I think that this probably—if any state says that it agrees [this is] legal—there’s no question in my mind it will end up in the laps of the U.S. Supreme Court justices in Washington, D.C.,” Simon told the outlet.
Democratic Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told Axios that secretaries of state are “not the eligibility police.”
“We are responsible for ensuring that basic facts are met to get someone on the ballot,” she said. “If we become political actors instead of election administrators, then we risk being a part of … the deterioration of democracy.”
After John Anthony Castro, a Republican presidential candidate, filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Trump from the ballot in Arizona, Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes told AZFamily.com the suit was a “nothing-burger” and “waste of taxpayer money.”
“It’s not ready for judicial action,” he said, noting there were no candidates yet on the ballot, according to the outlet.
Fontes said in August that the Arizona Supreme Court had already ruled Section 3 of the 14th Amendment couldn’t be enforced because there’s “no statutory process in federal law” to do so, according to The Hill.
Republican New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan said during a Sept. 13 news conference that having individual secretaries of state decide the matter apart from the courts would create “chaos, confusion, anger, and frustration.”
“There is no mention in New Hampshire state statute that the candidate in a New Hampshire presidential primary can be disqualified using the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, referencing insurrection or rebellion,” Scanlan said, according to WMUR. “Similarly, there is nothing in the 14th Amendment that suggests that exercising the provisions of that amendment should take place during the delegate selection process held by the different states.”
In Colorado, where Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a lawsuit on Sept. 6, Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold called Trump “a liar who will do everything he can to hold onto power.” Yet she also told MSNBC she would “see this litigation through.”
“I think it’s important for a court to weigh in to provide guidance,” she said.
At least one secretary of state, Maryland’s Susan Lee, a Democrat, has said she would consider removing Trump from the ballot, according to The Daily Record. The issue would likely end up before the Supreme Court if Trump was removed from the ballot in one or more states, legal experts previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The court may not want a situation where Trump is disqualified in some states but not others,” George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin said.
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