A New Anti-Trump Front Opens, Seeking To Disqualify Him From Running in 2024

In letter to secretaries of all U.S. states, Trump is likened to Jefferson Davis.

AP/Jacquelyn Martin, file
President Trump arrives to speak during a rally on January 6, 2021. AP/Jacquelyn Martin, file

A new effort has commenced in the struggle to block President Trump from running to regain the highest office in the land. In an unprecedented move, a statement has been mailed to every secretary of state in the union asking for their signed commitment to bar Mr. Trump from the ballot. 

After disqualification battles against candidates for the House of Representatives from North Carolina to Georgia to Arizona have largely stalled in state and federal courts, the statement signals a new front in the campaign to use the events of January 6, 2021, to shape the future of American elections.   

Free Speech for People, the left-leaning legal advocacy group at the van of these challenges, drafted the letter, which takes the style and substance of a law brief. It asks every secretary of state to sign a commitment to bar Mr. Trump from the ballot for “inciting an insurrection.” 

The effort is underway despite the fact that, in two impeachments, Mr. Trump was discovered by the Senate to be “not guilty.” If a secretary of state affixes his or her John Hancock to the document, he or she would be affirming in respect of Mr. Trump, “I hereby determine that he is ineligible to appear on the presidential primary ballot in this state.” 

This maneuver comes as the January 6 committee conducts public hearings on Mr. Trump’s behavior in the months following the 2020 presidential vote and as the Department of Justice pursues criminal charges against nearly 1,000 defendants for their involvement in the events at the Capitol. 

No legal challenge has yet been brought to a Trump candidacy, as he has not yet declared his intention to run. However, with Mr. Trump teasing such a step at rallies, and the January 6 committee nearing its denouement, Free Speech for the People —  which is allied with a group, Our Revolution, that is linked to Senator Sanders — has taken action. 

The 10-page declaration begins, “I have concluded that Donald J. Trump is disqualified from public office under the Disqualification Clause, and therefore ineligible to appear on our state ballot as a presidential candidate.”    

These challenges find their rationale in the part of the 14th Amendment drafted after the Civil War that bars officeholders who have “engaged in insurrection” from running for office. FSFP has argued in court that it also applies to those involved in the riot at the Capitol on January 6. This statement puts that day in with the “Whiskey and Shays’ Insurrections,” notable uprisings of the past.  

In asserting that the events of January 6 were an insurrection, the declaration brings as evidence that, “Immediately after the attack, the U.S. Department of Justice characterized” the riot as such. It also argues that those who stormed the Capitol “achieved a feat not even the Confederate rebellion managed: seizing the United States Capitol and disrupting the peaceful transfer of power.”

The statement goes on to assert that “President Trump’s actions leading up to and on January 6, 2021 constituted ‘engagement’ in insurrection.” Leaning on the presentations of the January 6 committee, the statement adumbrates how in both “words and actions,” Mr. Trump cleared the “engagement” threshold.

“To be sure,” it reads, “Trump did not himself attack the Capitol, or fire a gun. But neither did Jefferson Davis.”

The New York Sun

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