The following cases challenge Trump ballot eligibility.

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Washington, DC — Maine and Colorado both said that former President Donald Trump is not eligible to hold public office. Their decisions were based on a 155-year-old constitutional provision that isn’t used very often these days but is now being used in a growing number of legal challenges across the country that Trump should not be able to run for president again.

challenge Trump's ballot eligibility.

Efforts to stop Trump from running for office under the so-called “insurrection clause” of the Constitution (Section 3 of the 14th Amendment) began just a few months after the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. At that point, the left advocacy group Free Speech for People wrote to the top election officials in all 50 states and asked them to keep the former president from running for president in 2024.

Because of this, legal challenges to Trump’s status under the measure have been brought in federal and state courts in more than twenty states since then. A little-known Republican presidential candidate named John Anthony Castro filed 26 of these cases. Castro’s cases have been thrown out most of the time, either on his own or by the judges. Lawfare, a website that tracks Section 3 cases for national security, says that cases are still being heard in 14 states.

But in Colorado, a case brought by a group of voters was the first win in the fight against Trump. The state’s highest court ruled that he cannot run for office again.

Secretaries of state in a few other states have said they can’t take Trump off the ticket on their own. But Maine’s secretary of state was the first to do so Thursday night. She said that Trump is not qualified to be president because of how he handled the attack on January 6 and that he should be taken off the primary ticket.

So far, only the challenges in Colorado and Maine have been successful in saying that Trump is not qualified under Section 3. However, the U.S. Supreme Court will probably decide if he can be on the ballot in 2024.

challenge Trump's ballot eligibility.

In these other states, important steps have been made to keep Trump off of their primary ballots:

California

Not long after the Colorado Supreme Court said that Section 3 means Trump is not eligible to be president, California’s lieutenant governor asked the secretary of state to look into “every legal option” to take Trump off the state’s primary ballot.

“California must stand on the right side of history,” Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis told Secretary of State Shirley Weber in a letter on December 20. “For the same reasons laid out in Anderson (the Colorado case), California has to decide if Trump is not allowed to run for office in California.” The choice made in Colorado can be used to make a similar decision in our state. The law makes it clear that you have to be 35 years old and not be a rebel.

Weber wrote Kounalakis a letter last week saying that there are “complex legal issues surrounding this matter.” He also said that any decision about whether to put Trump on the primary ballot must “be grounded firmly in the laws and processes in place in California and our Constitution.” Weber and Kounalakis are both Democrats.

Trump’s name will be on the state’s primary ballot because Weber released a verified list of presidential candidates for California’s March 5 primary on Thursday night. The list included Trump.

Colorado

The Colorado Supreme Court made a historic ruling on Dec. 19: Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says that Trump can’t run for public office again. The court, which was split 4-3, found against Trump on all of the important legal issues it looked at. These included that Section 3 protects the presidency and those who took the presidential oath, that the attack on the Capitol on January 6 was an insurrection, and that Trump “engaged in” insurrection.

The majority of the state Supreme Court told the secretary of state to take his name off the ballot for the presidential primary. However, the court put off making a ruling until January 4 so that Trump could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Colorado Republican Party got involved in the case and on Wednesday asked the highest court in the country to look over the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling.

The appeal by the Colorado GOP means that Trump will be on the state’s primary ballot unless the U.S. Supreme Court decides not to hear the case or supports the decision of the state Supreme Court, according to the secretary of state.

The seven justices on the Colorado Supreme Court were all chosen by Democratic presidents. They are the first to take Trump off of a presidential primary ballot, and their decision is the first time that Section 3 has been used to rule that a presidential candidate is not eligible for the White House.

Maine

By law in Maine, people who want to question a primary nomination must first file a petition with the secretary of state. The challengers must then appear in public and make their case for why the primary nomination petition should be thrown out.

Three people filed challenges to Trump’s primary nomination petition with Secretary of State Shenna Bellows. Two of them said that the past president doesn’t meet the requirements for the presidency and isn’t allowed to hold public office under Section 3.

Bellows, a Democrat, heard the requests to take Trump’s name off the primary ticket on December 15. She made her decision public on Thursday, saying that the former president can’t run for office again because of what he did during the riot on January 6.

In her 34-page ruling, Bellows said, “I am aware that no secretary of state has ever denied a presidential candidate the right to vote based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment.” “I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”

Trump can go to state court and file an appeal. Bellows put her decision on hold until the court decides on any appeals. The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, which is the top court in the state, can also be asked to look another court’s decision over. The U.S. Supreme Court may decide the case in the end.

Michigan

Tuesday, the Michigan Supreme Court said it would not review a ruling by the state Court of Appeals that let Trump stay on the ballot for the state’s presidential primary.

In a short, unsigned order, the state’s highest court said that it is “not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this court.” There was no count of votes in the order.

Four voters in Michigan made the challenge to Trump’s candidacy on behalf of the liberal advocacy group Free Speech for People. This group is also behind cases in Oregon and Minnesota that are similar. The people said Trump shouldn’t be in office because of how he handled the attack on January 6.

The case was thrown out by a judge in the Michigan Court of Claims for technical reasons. The judge said that the case involved a political question that the courts could not decide and that the political parties choose their presidential candidates through the primary process. The lower court’s decision was supported by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals. The judges said that political parties and individual candidates decide who is on the primary ballot. Former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder chose all three of the judges on the panel.

Even though the appeals court made its decision, voters can still challenge Trump’s candidacy again in the general election if he gets the Republican nomination.

Minnesota

Eight voters in Minnesota wanted to keep Trump’s name off the primary ballot, but the state’s Supreme Court threw out their case. There are other election officials and the Minnesota secretary of state in charge of the election, but the top court said that the primary is a “internal party election to serve internal party purposes.”

“There is no state statute that prohibits a major political party from placing on the presidential nomination primary ballot, or sending delegates to the national convention supporting, a candidate who is ineligible to hold office,” the Minnesota court ruled.

challenge Trump's ballot eligibility.

But the court said the voters could file their case again for the general election.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s top voting official, Secretary of State David Scanlan, said in September that there is no legal reason to keep Trump’s name off of the primary ballot. This means that Trump’s name will be on the ballot.

“There is no mention in New Hampshire state statute that a candidate in a new presidential primary can be disqualified using the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution referencing insurrection or rebellion,” Scanlan said in a news event. “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.”

A Republican named Scanlan said that the language of state election law “is not discretionary,” and that any candidate who pays a $1,000 filing fee and swears that they are of legal age, are a citizen, and live in the state will have their name on the ballots.

In August, the secretary of state asked John Formella, the attorney general of New Hampshire, to explain what Section 3 meant and how it might apply to the 2024 election cycle. As of mid-September, Formella, a Republican, released his guidance. It said that state law doesn’t allow the secretary of state to remove a primary candidate’s name from the ballot “on the grounds that the candidate may be disqualified under Section 3 when a candidate has not been convicted or otherwise adjudicated guilty of conduct that would disqualify” them under that section.

challenge Trump's ballot eligibility.

Oregon

Late in November, Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade said she would not take Trump off the ticket for the Republican presidential primary because state law does not allow her to decide if a candidate is qualified.

The announcement from Griffin-Valade, who was chosen by Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek earlier this year, came after Oregon’s solicitor general, Benjamin Gutman, said that the law doesn’t require the secretary of state to check if a primary candidate is qualified to be president if they are elected. In a letter to Griffin-Valade, Gutman said that Section 3 “does not stop putting a candidate on the presidential primary ballot.”

Gutman, who works in an administration run by Democrats, made it clear that his advice only applies to the secretary’s work with the primary ballot. He also said that the question of Trump’s eligibility may come up again in the general election if he wins the Republican nomination.

Griffin-Valade also said that her choice not to keep Trump on the ballot only affects the primary and not the general election in November.

Anyway, earlier this month, five voters in Oregon asked the state Supreme Court to tell Griffin-Valade to take Trump off the ballots for both the primary and the general election, saying that he is constitutionally unfit to be president.

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These other states

Cases in 14 states that say Trump isn’t qualified are still going on. Our information shows that these states are Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

In Arizona, an appeal has been made against a lower court’s ruling to throw out the case.

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