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Explaining the 14th Amendment challenges that could disqualify Trump

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Maine has now become the second state to remove former President Donald Trump from the 2024 Republican presidential primary ballot. Maine’s secretary of state announced the decision on Thursday night citing the same provision Colorado’s Supreme Court used less than 10 days ago.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits anyone who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office. Both rulings concluded that Trump had done so leading up to and on January 6, 2021, according to the context and understanding of Section 3.

What are Trump’s arguments?

Trump’s lawyers argue that courts and state officials do not have the authority to disqualify him. They also charge that Trump was not given due process, meaning he was not given a proper, fair trial. Finally, they claim that Trump was not an “officer” of the United States while serving as President, and therefore has never “taken an oath…to support the constitution” as stated in Section 3. Both the Colorado State Supreme Court and Maine’s secretary of state were not convinced of these arguments.

What are the findings from Maine and Colorado?

Thursday’s decision by Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows reads in part:

“Maine’s election laws thus contemplate that I review the accuracy of a candidate’s declaration that they meet the qualifications of the office they seek. I therefore disagree with Mr. Trump’s contention that only Congress can adjudicate the qualifications of a Presidential candidate. The State’s authority, and that delegated by the Legislature, require me to limit access to the primary ballot to qualified candidates.”

Each court cited multiple instances, including current U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s own ruling, where courts removed candidates from ballots because they “failed to meet the qualifications set forth in the U.S. Constitution.”

Even though Trump didn’t argue against the fact that he engaged in insurrection, both Colorado and Maine felt the need to point to the mountains of evidence that he did, contained in videos, tweets, pictures and accounts of January 6th and the relevant timeframe. Some of the evidence admitted was directly from the hearings done in 2022 by the United States House Select Committee, although it was limited due to selective curation.

Why does the 14th Amendment exist?

After the Civil War, Congress constructed and passed the 14th Amendment to prevent people who had held office or participated in the Confederacy from holding office in the United States. It was intended to prevent former Confederates from undoing the progress made in the fallout of the Union prevailing.

What does this mean for Trump?

Both decisions by Colorado and Maine are temporarily on hold and are likely to be appealed.  In the meantime, Trump will remain on the ballot in both states. It will ultimately be up to the Supreme Court to settle the question of Trump’s eligibility.

Could this impact other states’ primary ballots?

States with similar election laws as Colorado and Maine will most likely rule similarly. However, due to the nature of states holding power over elections, each one has subtle differences. Michigan found that since the GOP is a private entity in their state, they are allowed to nominate someone on their primary ballot, even if they are an insurrectionist. The question of whether they would be allowed on the general ballot has not been answered.

What’s next?

The Supreme Court does not have any timeline for if or when it will weigh in on the case. With Iowa caucuses set for January 15 and other ballot deadlines on the horizon, experts argue it would be beneficial for justices to make a decision as far ahead of the 2024 election as possible.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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