As GOP frontrunner Donald Trump continues to lead in the polls, the idea of using Democrat secretaries of state to unilaterally keep him off that ballot has picked up steam.
A number of Far-Left groups are petitioning secretaries of state to pull President Trump from their primary ballots, arguing that his actions on Jan. 6 constituted an "insurrection" that disqualify him from running for reelection as per the 14th Amendment.
According to reporting by Catherine Yang of The Epoch Times, New Hampshire, Michigan, Georgia, Minnesota, and Arizona, election officials (including some Democrats) have already shot down the idea.
In Florida, one such petition was thrown out when the judge said she had no jurisdiction over the matter. Some have pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court as the ultimate arbiter of the matter, while others have dismissed the idea entirely as a longshot bound to fail.
This nonsense is based on one section of the 14th Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, that disqualified those who participated in the rebellion or insurrection against the United States from holding office, unless two-thirds of Congress made an exception for the candidate.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, 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. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
President Trump has not been charged with engaging in insurrection and rebellion; a federal criminal case against him in Washington charges him with conspiracy, and a similar state case in Georgia charges him with racketeering, and the 14th Amendment does not specify a process to determine who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
So, who should decide who engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States? Is it a Democrat county judge in one of the Party’s urban strongholds, like Atlanta, Detroit or New York City?
In September 2022, a Santa Fe-based District Court became the first to remove or bar an elected official in connection with the protest at the U.S. Capitol building that disrupted Congress as it was trying to certify President Joe Biden’s purported 2020 election victory when the judge ordered Cowboys for Trump cofounder Couy Griffin removed from office.
Griffin was convicted in federal court of a misdemeanor for entering Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, without going inside the building. He was sentenced to 14 days and given credit for time served. His appeal was later dismissed by the New Mexico Supreme Court which cited missed court filing deadlines by Griffin in rejecting his appeal.
So, bottom line – the substance of the judge’s decision was never reviewed by any court above the local level – hardly a binding precedent.
Among the Democrat secretaries of state who have received letters or petitions demanding former President Trump be barred from the ballot it seems one got it fairly right.
Along with a bunch of whing and complaining about the stupidity of the law and virtue signaling that of course Donald Trump should be prohibited from running again, Arizona's Democrat Secretary of State Adrian Fontes said in August that he had no authority to keep President Trump off the state's primary ballot, because of what we think is a very sensible Arizona Supreme Court ruling.
“The Arizona Supreme Court said that because there's no statutory process in federal law to enforce Section 3 of the 14th amendment, you can't enforce it," Mr. Fontes said, adding that he thinks that is stupid, but that’s the law.
From our perspective that is not stupid at all.
The 14th Amendment was passed for a very specific moment in history. Everyone knew who bore arms against the United States in the Civil War, who fought in the Confederate Army or Navy, who served in the rebel states’ legislative, executive, and judicial branches, and who gave aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States.
And it was very rarely enforced.
For example, Wade Hampton III, one of the Confederacy’s most distinguished officers and an unrepentant White Supremacist, was a Democrat who was elected governor of South Carolina, serving from 1876 to 1879. After that, he served two terms as U.S. Senator from 1879 to 1891. Clearly, Hampton could have been barred by the 14th Amendment from holding public office, but he wasn’t.
However, Couy Griffin, who wandered up to the Capitol on January 6, 2021, but didn’t go in was.
There’s no clarity about who would be subject to the disability imposed by the 14th Amendment and be barred from public office for participation in the challenges to the 2020 election, or the events of January 6, 2021.
Were one to adopt the logic and legal reasoning of those who want to keep Mr. Trump off the ballot, then one must conclude that anyone who once took the oath to support and the defend the Constitution of the United States (me, literally every member of the armed forces, every elected official, police officer, public employee, etc.) who later supported Mr. Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen would be under the same disability and, for giving aid and comfort to Mr. Trump, would be barred from public office, or even working as a letter carrier or park ranger.
The wise leaders who wrote and passed the 14th Amendment wanted to make sure leaders of the Confederacy did not resurface to resurrect the rebellion, but they also wanted to reunite the United States and heal the nation after the Civil War. Those who wish to use the 14th Amendment to keep Mr. Trump off the ballot don’t know their history, moreover, their motive is clearly to divide Americans not unite us. Their attempts to use the 14th Amendment for purposes its authors never intended should be rejected, not just by secretaries of state, but by local and state courts as well.
If Democrats want to use the 14th Amendment to keep former President Trump off the ballot, they must charge him with rebellion or insurrection in a federal court, prove it, and withstand the inevitable appeal up to the Supreme Court. They haven’t done that because they know they will rightly fail.
Blue state secretaries of state
14th Amendment Section 3
Civil War Confederates
January 6 riot
Cowboys for Trump cofounder Couy Griffin
Arizona Supreme Court
Arizona Secretary of State