14th Amendment challenges against Trump's candidacy mount as campaign pushes back

Most other such efforts related to candidates and Jan. 6 have failed.

September 12, 2023, 3:28 PM

A group of Minnesota voters on Tuesday morning filed a legal challenge asking the state Supreme Court to direct the secretary of state to exclude Donald Trump from the ballot in 2024, citing the argument that the former president is disqualified from public office because of the 14th Amendment and the push to overturn the 2020 election results.

While that theory is increasingly being embraced by advocates and critics of Trump, he has rejected it outright and his campaign calls it "election interference." Some other leading Republicans have also played down the viability of such an argument.

Trump denies all wrongdoing.

Tuesday's suit becomes the second major legal filing in the past couple of weeks as part of efforts to try to keep Trump off the ballot in next year's presidential race under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Minnesota suit

In August, the organization Free Speech for People sent a letter to Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon requesting that he exclude Trump from the ballots for both the Republican primary and general election next year.

The letter describes their rationale for why Trump should be disqualified and what they call the “self-executing nature” of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which states that someone isn't eligible for future office if, while they were previously in office, they took an oath to support the Constitution but then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or [gave] aid or comfort to the enemies thereof," unless they are granted amnesty by a two-thirds vote of Congress.

Supporters of this theory argue this applies to Trump because of his conduct after he lost the 2020 election but sought to reverse the results. Previous such efforts focused on other Republicans have failed, except in New Mexico, where a local commissioner convicted of trespassing on Jan. 6 was booted from his office.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks at the South Dakota Republican Party Monumental Leaders rally, Sept. 8, 2023, in Rapid City, S.D.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the South Dakota Republican Party Monumental Leaders rally, Sept. 8, 2023, in Rapid City, S.D.
Toby Brusseau/AP

Simon responded to Free Speech for the People, saying the “secretary does not have authority to investigate a candidate’s ineligibility."

The group is arguing that the secretary of state has the power to remove Trump from the ballot, leading them to now ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to intervene and direct Simon to remove the former president.

A Trump campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, blasted the new suit in a statement to ABC News -- repeating his earlier criticism of such challenges.

"The people who are pursuing this absurd conspiracy theory and political attack on President Trump are stretching the law beyond recognition," Cheung said, in part, adding, "There is no legal basis for this effort except in the minds of those who are pushing it."

Colorado suit

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a watchdog group, on Wednesday filed a lawsuit on behalf of a handful of voters seeking to bar Trump from the 2024 ballot in Colorado under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

Wednesday's suit against Trump was filed, with CREW's attorneys, by six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters, including former state, federal and local officials.

The suit accuses Trump of inciting and aiding the mob that stormed the Capitol two years ago. He was previously impeached by the House of Representatives for the same but was acquitted by the Senate and has repeatedly maintained he did not incite the rioters.

CREW President Noah Bookbinder said that the organization brought the lawsuit because “it is necessary to defend our republic both today and in the future.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has vocally pushed back on Trump's baseless claims of election fraud, has also been skeptical of the disqualification argument. "Anyone who believes in democracy must let the voters decide," he wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.