The U.S. Supreme Court will have to make a decision on whether to take up a case involving former President Donald Trump.
By next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will have to make a decision on whether to take up a case on whether former President Donald Trump can be disqualified from running for office based on an interpretation of the 14th Amendment after a long-shot GOP presidential candidate filed a lawsuit.
The justices have until Oct. 9 to render a decision in the case John Castro v. Donald Trump. Mr. Castro, a Texas attorney running for president, claimed in his petition that the former president should be disqualified due to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach, invoking allegations that Mr. Trump partook in an insurrection against the U.S. government.
Mr. Castro’s initial suit was dismissed in June by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is also overseeing the classified documents case brought about by the federal government against President Trump.
“Petitioner Castro is an FEC-registered Republican presidential candidate actively pursuing the nomination of the Republican Party to pursue the Office of the Presidency of the United States,” he claimed, adding that “Trump is causing a political competitive injury upon Petitioner Castro in the form of diminution of potential votes, political support, and political campaign contributions.”
According to an interview he gave to Newsweek, he’s filed lawsuits against the former president in more than a dozen states. So far, President Trump has not responded to Mr. Castro’s claims in court.
Mr. Castro’s effort is one of several attempts to keep President Trump off the ballots in several states based on a novel interpretation of the 14th Amendment.
Under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a clause stipulates that a candidate can be disqualified if a person “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States or had “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” While the federal government has charged the former president in relation to his activity after the 2020 election, he has not been charged with engaging in an insurrection against the U.S. government or similar crimes.
A number of legal experts and even some Democratic officials have disputed the legitimacy of the 14th Amendment-based attempts to block the former president from running.
Retired Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has long argued that arguments to block the former president on 14th Amendment grounds are problematic, noting that the amendment was ratified after the Civil War. Some critics of the move took umbrage with claims that secretaries of state, who are voted into office, can unilaterally disqualify a candidate under such pretenses.
He added: “In the absence of any such designation, it would be possible for individual states to disqualify a candidate, while others qualify him. It would also be possible for the incumbent president to seek to disqualify his rival, or for a partisan congress to do so. There is no explicit provision for the courts to intervene in what they might regard as a political question.”
New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan, a Republican, said this month that he cannot disqualify the former president under the 14th Amendment.
“There is nothing in our state statute that gives the secretary of state discretion in entertaining qualification issues,” he said at a recent news conference. “If a candidate for president preferably submits their paperwork during the filing period and pays the required fee, their name will appear on the ballot.”
Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who had railed against the former president’s 2020 claims of voter fraud in her state, also argued in a recent opinion article that only a court can decide.
“Michigan, unless a court rules otherwise, Donald Trump will be on the ballot for our Republican presidential primary on Feb. 27, 2024,” Mrs. Benson wrote. “Whether Trump is eligible to run for president again is a decision not for secretaries of state but for the courts.”
Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia elections official who opposed President Trump, told ABC News that courts will likely throw out such cases because the former president hasn’t been convicted.
“If somebody’s adjudicated—if they’re convicted, somewhere of insurrection—that’s one thing. That’s not the case here and even in these other cases that are running right now. Our big concern is if you have a hung jury or is acquitted on anything, he will take his full exoneration,” Mr. Sterling said.