One week after a Colorado lawsuit was filed to try to keep Donald Trump off any ballot, a liberal group is seeking to do the same in Minnesota.Former President Trump has been campaigning actively for a…
Former President Trump has been campaigning actively for a chance at the 2024 presidential race, and has been leading the GOP field by far. He’s maintained a double-digit lead since he announced his campaign last November, which has only grown as the candidate has been indicted four times and named in several more civil suits, most of which have to do with his actions in office as president.
Mr. Simon said last week on the NPR “All Things Considered” show that he did not have the authority to do so.
“Well, this is an eligibility question. It’s an eligibility argument that he is constitutionally ineligible because of the 14th Amendment language that you summarized. The problem is that the Office of Secretary of State in Minnesota is not the eligibility police,” he told host Tom Crann.
“A lot of people are surprised to know that, but we are not in a position legally, we don’t have the authority legally to make eligibility determinations of any kind, whether that’s residents, whether that’s age, or something else like this.”
Minnesota law requires a petition to strike someone from the ballot, he added, recounting a similar challenge in 2016. A petition was filed arguing state Rep. Bob Barrett didn’t live in the district he was elected to represent, and the state’s supreme court ruled in the petitioner’s favor, ruling Mr. Barrett ineligible to run for reelection 80 days before the 2016 election.
Mr. Simon explained that the state law allows “any individual” to bring forth such a petition.
“That’s as broad an invitation I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Four days later, liberal group Free Speech for the People, representing the individual petitioners, filed the lawsuit in Minnesota.
Free Speech for the People began arguing for President Trump’s ineligibility for office in 2021, sending letters to secretaries of state across the country. This year, it has renewed its efforts, joining other liberal groups in sending notices to election officials in several states and filing petitions.
Last year, the group also filed petitions against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Madison Cawthorn, a former North Carolina Congressman who did not seek reelection, ultimately rendering the petition moot. A judge had ruled in favor of Mr. Taylor Greene, which meant neither of the 2022 lawsuits were successful.
Judge Robin Rosenberg, an appointee of Democrat President Barack Obama, stated that she lacked jurisdiction.
“An individual citizen does not have standing to challenge whether another individual is qualified to hold public office,” she wrote.
The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, in the wake of the Civil War, and Congress had required the formerly Confederate states to ratify it in order to regain federal representation.
The amendment granted citizenship and equal protection under the law to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, including former slaves, and allowed the federal government to punish states that infringed on citizens’ right to vote.
It also, in Section 3, prevented anyone who engaged in insurrections or rebellions against the nation from holding civil, military, or elected office without two-thirds approval from both chambers of Congress, targeting those who had participated in the Civil War.
The Minnesota petition, like ones before it, argues that President Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, constituted “an insurrection or a rebellion” that would disqualify him.
The 84-page petition mirrors the structure and arguments of the Colorado petition, which was filed by a separate Washington-based group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.
They describe those who rallied at the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, 2021, as a “mob” that “overtook the Capitol,” and argue that many government officials and authorities have already characterized the event as an insurrection, citing several cases the Justice Department (DOJ) has brought forth.
The DOJ already has cases against more than 1,100 people who were present on Jan. 6, some of whom were given lengthy prison sentences. At least eight judges have termed the Capitol breach event as an “insurrection” in published opinions.
The petition also cites impeachment articles against President Trump that call the event an “insurrection.” Both impeachments, brought by a Democrat-led House, were acquitted in the Republican-led Senate.
The petitioners allege that President Trump knew his supporters were armed and “had plans to commit violence on that day,” and that he “egged supporters on.”